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  1. #1 Ken Fabos off topic 
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    (This Thread is a continuation of the discussion in the now closed "Solar/wind vs nuclear who will win". Anyone coming to this without having read that will be missing much of the context. I urge all who want to participate to begin there. Ken Fabos)
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    Kojax @116 You said -

    Technologically and economically, it certainly makes more sense to start with nuclear and migrate toward solar/wind. Politically it's more likely to work if we do it the other way around.

    Does this mean you (at least in part) agree with me that the shortest route to nuclear will be via carbon pricing and the (presumed) failure of other alternatives to deliver satisfactory results?

    Skeptic, @129 you said -

    You are right about the impact of corrupt politics. I still tend to think of greenies, though. They may be a minority, but their influence is vast beyond their numbers.

    Does this mean you (at least in part) agree that there are other political influence than Greens to blame for the hole nuclear is in?

    Two small but significant changes of mind from a single thread? Might be a record!

    Lynx Fox, I don't know if I may have induced a small change of mind in you too but I can't believe that what I've been saying is insignificant if it has done so.
    PS I recall posting a reply to you @129 and recall seeing it before I signed out - any ideas what may have happened? Unwisely I didn't save a finished copy, not previously having had posts vanish here before. Fortunately I do have an earlier draft - not quite as finished as the one I'm about to repost. Thanx, Ken.


    Last edited by Ken Fabos; December 6th, 2011 at 07:42 AM. Reason: Added introductory remark
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    It may seem I am implying malice by my criticisms of the Right but I am not.

    Greed and fear, not stupidity or malice are the true failings that have landed us collectively into this mess. Well, some stupidity and gullibility. And maybe a bit of hubris as well. Selfishness, shortsightedness... oh, well. But mostly fear and greed.

    Greed? Because the projected future earnings of coal and oil and gas and unconventionals like tar sands and coal seam gas are at stake and the fossil fuel companies, the banks that bankroll them, the investors who look to profit from the windfall, and governments who've become accustomed to it boosting the budget bottom line will put commercial considerations ahead of the global need to secure a benign climate for our descendants.

    Fear? Fear has been the biggest motivator and has brought the rest into line, driving most of the rest of commerce and industry and of the community at large to fear lost prosperity and lost comfort and security and to fear the disruption and the uncertainty that comes with change such a big change.

    These motivations, genuine and sincere as they are, tell us nothing about the truth of the climate problem or how to fix it, only about the strength of widespread perceptions of how hard and expensive real action might be. (insert rant about how badly the media has let us all down in regard to community perceptions.)

    For our forebears, an all or nothing effort for the future of our descendents was less to be feared than the ignomy of giving up and leaving our fate up to the vagaries of chance and to forces that don't figure what happens to our families in their plans at all. I suggest what distinguishes between their efforts and ours is public perceptions of the seriousness and urgency of the peril they faced which provided motivation. As long as climate science denial eats away at the public's acceptance of the problem and deliberately cultivates fear of the enormous changes involved the problem will not get the minimum efforts needed. Without that unifying motivation the middle ground of politics will remain divided and the Green-left's influence will appear much greater than it actually is and those who do take climate seriously find diminishing cause to trust the political Right to do anything at all except continue to back fossil fuels. The irrationality of the Right's position on climate remains, IMO the biggest impediment to breaking this planet wrecking impasse.


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    Ken, this has nothing to do with the thread you posted it on.
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    At least he is starting threads according to his interests. Well done, Ken Fabos.

    Prince has been meditating a bit on the topic of "left" vs "right" political terms, derived from old conventions, generally "right" representing status quo, the minority interests which control disproportionate share of wealth and influence, self-described aristocracy and "left" representing hoi polloi, the masses, the Great Unwashed, downtrodden workers, huddled masses of which Lady Liberty is (or WAS) inviting to American Republic.

    Power utilities exist to serve both, reliably and at reasonable cost. So why should they be polarized arbitrarily according to source of said power?
    The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.- Thucydides
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post
    At least he is starting threads according to his interests. Well done, Ken Fabos.

    Prince has been meditating a bit on the topic of "left" vs "right" political terms, derived from old conventions, generally "right" representing status quo, the minority interests which control disproportionate share of wealth and influence, self-described aristocracy and "left" representing hoi polloi, the masses, the Great Unwashed, downtrodden workers, huddled masses of which Lady Liberty is (or WAS) inviting to American Republic.

    Power utilities exist to serve both, reliably and at reasonable cost. So why should they be polarized arbitrarily according to source of said power?
    You are correct, sir. A power generating utility will happily build whatever kind of power plant they can make the best profit on. Those who are already heavily invested in coal fired, nuclear, or whatever will of course, be concerned about any legislation which may impact their current investments. But for new plants, no. Some will even jump on the renewable power bandwagon if the subsidies are enough and the legislation permits them to raise their rates sufficiently to guarantee a profit.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post
    Lynx Fox, I don't know if I may have induced a small change of mind in you too but I can't believe that what I've been saying is insignificant if it has done so.
    PS I recall posting a reply to you @129 and recall seeing it before I signed out - any ideas what may have happened? Unwisely I didn't save a finished copy, not previously having had posts vanish here before. Fortunately I do have an earlier draft - not quite as finished as the one I'm about to repost. Thanx, Ken.
    My big problem is at least in the US I just don't see any connection between anti-nuc crowd and the right wing--just about all the protest, letter writing campaigns, public hearings, signature gathering, funding for advertising, voter drives for petitions etc, have all been left wing driven. I do agree, given the left in mostly irrational about this subject, and given the huge money linking fossil fuels and the right, there are no natural allies for developing nuclear energy or convincing the public it's the only short-term alternative for fossil fuels that fits everywhere and brings the winning combination of reliability, safety, and simple integration into the current electrical grid.

    No idea what happened to your post. Nothing shows up as deleted on our mod board.
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    Dear members and guests at scienceforum, I have sent a complaint to the webmaster, protesting Harold14370's decision to declare my posts off-topic. I will not even attempt to restart the terminated debate here - the context of my remarks will be missing. Some of what I consider my most persuasive arguments have not reappeared here. Also the other participant in the Solar/Wind vs Nuclear thread should have had the courtesy of being informed, in the thread, of that decision to move my remarks. I feel shabbily treated by Harold but await the webmaster's response to my appeal.
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    Ken, your political rants do not belong in the thread in question, which you were told repeatedly before I started moving your threads. It should not have come as any surprise to you.
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    Lynx Fox, I will be disappointed if you endorse Harold's decision. There was no indication that you thought I was straying off topic.

    As for what I'm saying went missing I know what points I made even if not word for word and they were addressed to you. I don't believe I was ever abusive or otherwise disruptive and I can't see how anyone could seriously say the politics of our energy choices, debated within the 'Environmental Issues' section of this Forum is irrelevant is absurd. That anyone could seriously consider the impact of climate science denial is not relevant to the politics of those choices is also absurd.

    I still think Harold at the very least should have announced his decision within the Thread. I saw that Kalopin found his posts redirected to 'pseudoscience' with no announcement within the thread itself until Kalopin remarked on missing post. He, like me may have missed the notice in the notifications tab. I think that was uncivil of Harold, to you, to Kalopin and to the other participants.

    I await the webmaster's response and am going to withdraw from further comment at this time.
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    Ken, do all threads on the Environmental Issues forum have to be about climate change legislation, or can we discuss other related topics, like for example nuclear vs solar vs wind? Do you see how it is disruptive to interject discussions into a thread which are off-topic? Especially when the off-topic nature of one's posts is pointed out to you by a moderator?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post
    At least he is starting threads according to his interests. Well done, Ken Fabos.

    Prince has been meditating a bit on the topic of "left" vs "right" political terms, derived from old conventions, generally "right" representing status quo, the minority interests which control disproportionate share of wealth and influence, self-described aristocracy and "left" representing hoi polloi, the masses, the Great Unwashed, downtrodden workers, huddled masses of which Lady Liberty is (or WAS) inviting to American Republic.

    Power utilities exist to serve both, reliably and at reasonable cost. So why should they be polarized arbitrarily according to source of said power?
    You are correct, sir. A power generating utility will happily build whatever kind of power plant they can make the best profit on. Those who are already heavily invested in coal fired, nuclear, or whatever will of course, be concerned about any legislation which may impact their current investments. But for new plants, no. Some will even jump on the renewable power bandwagon if the subsidies are enough and the legislation permits them to raise their rates sufficiently to guarantee a profit.
    Indeed, Prince's observations seem to confirm this excellent point. If there is a so-called "conservative" point of view in this arena it is generally due to risk-averse investors, but it is the bottom line which rules all, as is the case in most businesses. Innovation is well-rewarded IF it is shown to be profitable. This thread is well situated in the politics forum and it is to be hoped it attracts interest here and has a good run, best regards to Ken Fabos.

    Regarding excellent point made in post # 6 above, Prince sees a similar alliance, almost covert, between "right-wing" financial establishment desire to drive high-cost unionized labor manufacturing enterprises overseas to cheaper labor markets and "left-wing" environmentalist desire to drive polluting manufacturing enterprises overseas for NIMBY purposes. It is ALMOST enough to get one believing in crazy conspiracy theories, not that these are topic of thread...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Ken, do all threads on the Environmental Issues forum have to be about climate change legislation, or can we discuss other related topics, like for example nuclear vs solar vs wind? Do you see how it is disruptive to interject discussions into a thread which are off-topic? Especially when the off-topic nature of one's posts is pointed out to you by a moderator?
    And others.
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    Harold, you did not indicate you were speaking as moderator. You were a participant - one that has an authority most other participants do not. I think you have abused that authority.

    The debate is derailed and now it is further fragmented since the missing post was not moved here, but to a separate thread.
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    Harold @10 If it is normal for discussion in the Environmental issues forum to include the politics that relate to them, why was mine considered off topic? I invite Kojax, who began that thread to say whether he considered my posts off topic.

    Anyway, shouldn't discussion of the technical merits of competing energy sources - without reference to relevant Environmental issues like climate and related politics belong in Engineering and Technology section?
    Last edited by Ken Fabos; November 28th, 2011 at 05:34 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post
    Harold @10 If it is normal for discussion in the Environmental issues forum to include the politics that relate to them, why was mine considered off topic? I invite Kojax, who began that thread to say whether he considered my posts off topic.

    Anyway, shouldn't discussion of the technical merits of competing energy sources - without reference to relevant Environmental issues like climate and related politics belong in Engineering and Technology section?
    A fair question, that last one. Truly, it would seem also that Ken Fabos is not the only one Prince has observed engaged in digression on forum.
    The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.- Thucydides
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    It is not just a technical question. There are undoubtedly political aspects. However, the discussion of politics should relate to the subject at hand (choosing among solar, wind, and nuclear in this case). Ken's political discussion did not do this.

    Some digression is to be expected, and in fact was tolerated. When it is persistent to the point of derailing the thread, then a limit is reached. As for example, this discussion of moderator action is off topic for a thread about global warming politics.
    Last edited by Harold14370; December 1st, 2011 at 03:28 AM.
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    FP, much as I disagree with you, I am at a loss to know where the kind of discussion I was engaged in really belongs. Sorry but Politics isn't going to attract the people for whom this is about the environment. ie the intersection of energy choices and climate change.

    I know you disagree the climate problem is a problem but for me this isn't an academic exercise; I fear for the future of our children and descendants should it turn out to be true and have too much respect for our institutions of science to presume them wrong. AGW threads don't really cover more than one aspect of this. And has anyone contributed anything useful or new in those threads? Would people consider the politics of climate change - by not being about the science - off topic there too?

    Thanks anyway for the acknowledgement that there is a real issue to discuss.
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    Harold @16, I don't see it the same way. Obviously.

    I thought much of what I said did address the topic at hand. Our political choices are a determining factor in those energy choices and the climate issue underpins those choices for me, and I think for many others. And, given Nuclear's current political unpopularity, it may rate as the determining and/or limiting factor for why it is not being taken up in much of the world, whereas Solar and Wind are. Thus the politics is determining which form of energy will 'win' the infrastructure investment dollars.

    In the now closed thread you said of me - "He hates both nuclear and coal, but he hates coal a little bit more. Therefore he is willing to drop his opposition to nuclear, or tone it down a little anyway, if only the pro-nuke people go along with his climate legislation."*

    I will concede you had a legitimate point there except unconstrained growth of emissions truly terrifies me, yes, even more than widespread use of nuclear. Yes, I have my concerns about nuclear. Up there near the top is the apparent need for an enforceable, international global regulatory regime to ensure both minimum safety standards and prevent diversion of skilled personnel and materials to military purposes. A step towards global governance. Not being American I don't have the same level of trust in the USA's good intentions and ethical standards as applied to it's unilateral enforcement of those standards. I certainly don't get a vote. But I don't want to find myself off topic here too.

    
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post
    Harold @16, I don't see it the same way. Obviously.

    I thought much of what I said did address the topic at hand. Our political choices are a determining factor in those energy choices and the climate issue underpins those choices for me, and I think for many others. And, given Nuclear's current political unpopularity, it may rate as the determining and/or limiting factor for why it is not being taken up in much of the world, whereas Solar and Wind are. Thus the politics is determining which form of energy will 'win' the infrastructure investment dollars.
    Reality will win in the end. This is why we have to have discussions about the scientific facts of the matter.

    In the now closed thread you said of me - "He hates both nuclear and coal, but he hates coal a little bit more. Therefore he is willing to drop his opposition to nuclear, or tone it down a little anyway, if only the pro-nuke people go along with his climate legislation."*

    I will concede you had a legitimate point there except unconstrained growth of emissions truly terrifies me, yes, even more than widespread use of nuclear. Yes, I have my concerns about nuclear. Up there near the top is the apparent need for an enforceable, international global regulatory regime to ensure both minimum safety standards and prevent diversion of skilled personnel and materials to military purposes. A step towards global governance. Not being American I don't have the same level of trust in the USA's good intentions and ethical standards as applied to it's unilateral enforcement of those standards. I certainly don't get a vote. But I don't want to find myself off topic here too.
    I don't get your point about the USA. We don't have any monopoly on nuclear power.
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    On US enforcement of nuclear non-proliferation (military) Iraq's nuclear facilities being targeted with military strikes pre Gulf War I and Libya's back when Gaddafi was pariah and before those tensions eased come to mind. Although, strictly speaking the Israeli military did the Iraq raid IIRC I believe it did so with US advice, Intelligence and approval.

    I don't and can't see the clear and distinct line between military and civilian nuclear that others, like you, appear to. I'm not saying civilian nuclear can't and doesn't exist in many places without any ties to military nuclear - clearly in places it does. (Finland, Sweden come to mind) But for some nations, developing nuclear does have an ulterior motive. Using it to develop a pool of expertise in handling and processing radioactive materials, and to provide a source of the materials to divert to weapons programs looks to me to be a real problem. One that needs international regulation and enforcement.

    I am not saying what the US (and Israel) did was wrong or unnecessary but, lacking an effective international body (which the UN or World Court are not) to make the call the rest of the world was largely left out of the decision making. Even when agreement was secured it was, to some extent, a case of making deals, of forcing or buying votes in the UN. Australia, for example, feels such strong obligations to America (You helped save us back in WWII - thanks BTW) that opposing the US on these matters is virtually unthinkable. But the whole process was, if you like, undemocratic.

    I think what's good for the rest of the world and what's good for the USA have, luckily for us all, coincided to a large degree. Since WWII the US influence in the world has been good in many ways. Much more good than bad. But I have concerns that, as resource depletion and the impacts of climate change start hurting, that US administrations will, as they must, put US interests ahead of global ones and the results will not be good for the world at large. Even, in the long run, not good for the USA.

    Congress and Presidents are not elected to save the world, they are elected to do their best for the USA and people like me do not get a vote. I hope that they continue to manage to do both but on climate I see signs that they are putting short term US commercial and strategic interests ahead of global interests.

    And this is heading further off topic! Okay with me and you did ask, but please let me know if Harold the Moderator has a problem.

    As long as the politics of climate change are mired in BS the scientific facts - whether on nuclear power vs renewables or on the reality of the climate problem itself - will not be the determining factor in our energy choices. On that basis what I posted was very much relevant to the question the thread posed.

    BTW I saw Barry Brooks of BraveNewClimate.com on Australian TV last night extolling the virtues of nuclear for Australia. Missed most unfortunately. The show is called Big Ideas on ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). I don't know that it's showing up on the website yet or if it will be available to view outside Australia. They often provide transcripts but not always. You could go to his site and ask.
    Last edited by Ken Fabos; December 4th, 2011 at 04:06 PM.
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    the scientific facts - whether on nuclear power vs renewables or on the reality of the climate problem itself - will not be the determining factor in our energy choices.
    Unfortunately I agree with you. The fossil-fuel money and religious-fueled anti-intellectual bent of the US population are united and completely drowning out the scientific message. The US has been through 3 major crisis over past four decades related to energy use and still missed every opportunity to harness that concern into meaningful action. I hate to think what magnitude of crisis is really going to change things.
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    Scientific facts should not and cannot be the determining factor. They can only inform the economic and moral decision making process. The true economic comparison among energy production methods, as far as I can tell, has not been presented in any of these threads - and I am referring to the sum of internal and external costs. For instance if the external costs of nuclear are factored in the price of nuclear power is higher than wind power and lower than solar, oil, gas. But if the externalities are looked at alone, including subsidies, pollution costs, sickness caused by emissions and so on, nuclear appears to be a far bigger drain on the public purse than solar and wind, but still comes out ahead of coal and oil, and about equal to natural gas. Statements that ignore the external costs are relatively meaningless, but are often made in the propaganda in the expectation that the reader will not recognize the deliberate misdirection.

    The particular paper that I got the above economic "facts" from is here: http://www.worldscibooks.com/etextbo...895_chap08.pdf

    I have no idea what this author's political leanings are, or if he is a credible source, so feel free to challenge the conclusions. My only point in posting this is to say that to me it is far from obvious that nuclear is the answer to anthropogenic warming, especially considering, as iceaura has pointed out, that the cost to taxpayers (this is after all socialism) leaves the purse empty for developing alternatives, and if we were to start today new nukes could not begin to reduce AGW for about twenty years, which is too late.

    I am willing to be convinced otherwise.
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    I largely agree with your post Bunbury. But on this one "They can only inform the economic and moral decision making process," it's voice is barely a whisper, and not of the type to get attention, at least in the US.
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    Scientific facts should not and cannot be the determining factor.
    If we make a decision that is based on politics or wishful thinking, and not on scientific facts, the scientific facts will hit us right upside the head. Scientific facts have a way of doing that.
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    Harold @19 - The reality is that reality is currently losing and I am not prepared to sit and wait for that to change; as long as there is well funded and well organised effort to keep it that way I don't see anything inevitable about it. There are many good advocates promoting science based facts and logic but it isn't enough. If what people are doing here isn't working the choices seem to be to keep on doing it and breaking the deadlock by sheer perseverance or else try something else. I've sort of been trying to see if there can be something else. It has to have science based reality and truth underpinning it. On the reality and truth of climate science is where you and I most differ, but I feel that would be truly unproductive here and ask that the thread not devolve into the same old 'yes it is, no it's not' bickering that has been the norm.

    Lynx Fox @21 - Religion and Politics, now there is a minefield where few dare to tread. I'm Australian, and ours is one of the least religious nations in the world. Our Prime Minister is an athiest and living 'in sin'. Here a 'God Botherer' ie deeply religious, national leader would be deeply distrusted. Yet I don't believe that even the deeply religious are beyond having minds changed if the right arguments could be made - like when did God agree to an amendment to the Sin of greed that exempts commercial activities as part of the deal to get anti abortion laws in and evolution out? Sorry but from the distant perspective of an Australian that looks like a deal with the Right that gets active voter drives from devout Christians to elect people who, in the end, usually fail to deliver those objectives. More criticism of the Right but, BTW, I have, in Australian blogs been scathing of the Left's hypocrisy too. But I have to say it looks like a pattern, similar to the way the Right deals with nuclear. Still, I really believe that without the climate denial of the Right, the politics of the centre, of moderates and of science based policy can become ascendent again. (or for the first time).

    The extreme Left can and will be sidelined once that happens and The Greens, who have grown as a protest against the unwillingness of both Labor (the Left) and Liberal/National (the Right) in Australia to address issues like climate, resource management and environment will need to reinvent themselves as moderates or else see their fortunes decline. Labor is giving lip service to these issues - they don't have much idealism left, but they do value competence and pragmatism and IMO, have performed better than a hostile, Murdoch dominated media would ever credit them with. Some hate the recursive rounds of negotiation and re-negotiation that a minority government has to do, but my local member of parliament, an Independent conservative, is one of those that chose to back Labor and it's Carbon Pricing and Clean Energy legislation. He appeared to work very hard seeking out information, looking to experts and does appear to be sincere though far from perfect. I'm sure some 'deals', that saw funding flow to his Electorate were in there too, but doubt any were to the detriment of the national interest. There certainly are far worse representatives holding our futures in their hands than him. Other Australians would strongly disagree of course.

    Bunbury @22 - nothing less than a full and true accounting is good enough. I think that has always been the case. It is difficult, costly and the results always subject to fierce criticism from some quarter, at least with respect to our current global difficulties. Distrust of science - organised campaigns to promote distrust of science are doing something that, to my mind verges on Evil. I've never really believed in Evil, but now find myself harboring doubts about that when I think about what climate denial is doing to our future. It really is an ugly thing when the blinkers come off. (And there's one more argument for the Fundamentalists, a Great Big Lie that has insinuated itself into the political processes of the most powerful nation on Earth, at the highest levels, and even worked it's way into the very beliefs of devout Christians themselves - I suspect it's the delivery of wealth, power and abundance beyond all imagination that's seduced them; the suffering of so many poor have been relieved. Could be the power to build great war machines for smiting enemies too. But there's a catch if you use the stuff to excess which will see all that abundance taken away and then some in a world made hotter and more hellish).

    Perfect knowledge is always going to be elusive but failure to act is as much a decision with flow on consequences as any other choice, good or bad. I come back to the issue of major investment in new, low emissions infrastructure at last and suggest that, even if Lynx, Skeptic and others are right and renewables simply do not deliver satisfactory results, it isn't the end of the world as we know it. However failure to face the climate problem head on ... I believe that really can and will lead to the end of the world as we know it.
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    Harold, I think you misunderstood my meaning. I did not say decisions shouldn’t be based on scientific facts – they should of course.

    There is a scientific fact that generating electricity by means of a rotating wind turbine costs nothing – zero – since the wind is free. This is a fact, but it would be nonsensical to use this fact by itself to decide to build ten thousand wind turbines. In the same way, it would be nonsensical to decide to build a nuclear power plant based on the scientific fact that nuclear reactors release zero carbon to the atmosphere when operating.

    These are facts that when combined with other facts can form a hypothesis that, for example, nuclear is the best power production method for the future. But that is only a hypothesis. When does it become a generally accepted theory? Not until the scientific facts have been tested and combined with economic facts, and moral facts about what future we want for our descendants.

    I have seen a lot of hypotheses often based on tilted scientific and economic facts, and moral facts that seem wrong to me. I'm still looking for a theory I can believe in.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury View Post
    Scientific facts should not and cannot be the determining factor. They can only inform the economic and moral decision making process. The true economic comparison among energy production methods, as far as I can tell, has not been presented in any of these threads - and I am referring to the sum of internal and external costs. For instance if the external costs of nuclear are factored in the price of nuclear power is higher than wind power and lower than solar, oil, gas. But if the externalities are looked at alone, including subsidies, pollution costs, sickness caused by emissions and so on, nuclear appears to be a far bigger drain on the public purse than solar and wind, but still comes out ahead of coal and oil, and about equal to natural gas. Statements that ignore the external costs are relatively meaningless, but are often made in the propaganda in the expectation that the reader will not recognize the deliberate misdirection.
    One of those costs will be the depreciation in value of the land under which the USA and Australia's existing coal reserves now sit.

    It's unfortunate that we count our balance sheets this way, but if a plot of land that was valued at say 200 million today, were to suddenly depreciate to where it was only worth 50 million, the balance sheets of the company that owned that land would show that they had lost 150 million dollars. If coal were to become supplanted by nuclear or solar or wind or something else, that's exactly what would happen. Multiple companies would lose millions instantly.

    Basically, the problem is that the USA and Australia are desperate to ensure they get some value out of that coal, rather than just leave it buried and forget about it. The workers are just political gambits.



    The particular paper that I got the above economic "facts" from is here: http://www.worldscibooks.com/etextbo...895_chap08.pdf

    I have no idea what this author's political leanings are, or if he is a credible source, so feel free to challenge the conclusions. My only point in posting this is to say that to me it is far from obvious that nuclear is the answer to anthropogenic warming, especially considering, as iceaura has pointed out, that the cost to taxpayers (this is after all socialism) leaves the purse empty for developing alternatives, and if we were to start today new nukes could not begin to reduce AGW for about twenty years, which is too late.

    I am willing to be convinced otherwise.
    Interesting paper. I think another thing nuclear proponents forget is that if nuclear energy becomes more widespread, the cost per unit of Uranium will most likely go up, just like how the cost of oil has gone up as more countries begin consuming it.

    However, the cost of wind and (to a lesser degree) solar are not based on scarce natural resources, so no amount of additional demand is likely to impact the price negatively. (A positive impact is forseeable, however as increased economy of scale improves the efficiency of the production process.)
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    Kojax, nice of you to drop in. Yours is a voice I pay attention to.

    Moderators, please take note - I really want a discussion that is allowed to go wherever the debate takes it; this particular issue cannot be contained within neat boundaries of Environment or Science or Engineering or Politics. Ethics slash morality, absolutely belong in this debate too - thanks Bunbury. Even Religion, since it too impacts real world decision making processes, especially in the most powerful and influential nation on Earth.

    More than scoring points or winning the argument, I am seeking solutions, and not technical ones - others can and already do a much better job on that than I ever could.

    If the battle lines stalled and have dug in, to make it a war of attrition there will only be one winner - the cynical and self interested Fossil Fuel interests who must be rubbing hands with glee to see their enemies 'fighting to see what they are fighting about' (c/- Don Henderson, "It's On").
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury View Post

    The particular paper that I got the above economic "facts" from is here: http://www.worldscibooks.com/etextbo...895_chap08.pdf
    Quote from the above paper:
    In the end , nuclear reactors and renewable power generators do the
    same thing: they produce electrical energy (k W h). Why rely on a nuclear
    system that is subject to highly uncertain projections about uranium
    availability , centrally administered by technocratic elites, and vulnerable
    to the ebb and flow of international politics (requiring garrison- like
    security measures at multiple points in the supply chain), when superior
    alternatives exist?
    This is incorrect. Renewable power generators produce intermittent power. They cannot by themselves power a modern electrical grid, unless one takes credit for energy storage technology which has not yet been invented.
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    "This is incorrect. Renewable power generators produce intermittent power. They cannot by themselves power a modern electrical grid, unless one takes credit for energy storage technology which has not yet been invented. "

    Well there is pumped water storage for wind power already in operation in a couple of places. But you have to have water for that, so even though my very dry state gets 20% of its power from wind, we'll never have that option. We're installing more wind power anyway.

    My view is that "a modern electrical grid" is probably not modern enough. German wind power producers have had to come up with schemes for dumping 'surplus' power generated. Which is just plain silly. A properly designed interconnected grid would be able to switch over to such power sources fairly smoothly. Especially since wind is closely monitored and reported on for shipping and air transport anyway. 'Surplus' generation should easily be identified in advance and the switching readied for application.

    The newer concentrated solar technologies have achieved fantastic storage numbers. Wind power sites also use flow batteries. And there are new materials and scaling up, scaling down technologies being announced regularly. By the time an 'intermittent' power supply could become a serious problem for a region, the options will just be a matter of choosing based on cost comparisons and suitability for the site. As for general storage technology, the obvious candidate is a fleet of electric cars.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    The newer concentrated solar technologies have achieved fantastic storage numbers.
    What do you consider "fantastic"?

    As for general storage technology, the obvious candidate is a fleet of electric cars.
    I really need to see some numbers. The cars will not be sitting on their chargers all day long. A huge amount of battery materials will be required. Is it feasible?
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    concentrated solar technologies
    We've seen the 90%+ efficiencies from some of the salt storage solutions, but from a prior link, they use heated oils which break down making their durability only a few years without complete overalls. The concentrated solar will only apply to the sunniest dry places, like parts of the American SW, Arabian peninsular and Northern Africa. They don't work nearly as well in moist tropical or temperate regions where many people live like Northern Europe. But hey, it's probably part of the solution--none of renewable are expected to offer the cookie cutter energy solutions of fossil fuel or nuclear energy.

    Electric cars will be charging at night, usually at home, and be a net drain on the system unless we build an enormous parking lot recharging capability where most cars sit during the day. They do work well with traditional base loading technology though, because other demands are low at night. The current lithium based electric car tech is a ecological disaster in the making--non standardized with disposal or recycling built into their design (for the most part) and needing replacement every 5-7 years. We'll get there eventually, but it needs a lot more progress to really be a great solution.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    The newer concentrated solar technologies have achieved fantastic storage numbers.
    What do you consider "fantastic"?

    As for general storage technology, the obvious candidate is a fleet of electric cars.
    I really need to see some numbers. The cars will not be sitting on their chargers all day long. A huge amount of battery materials will be required. Is it feasible?
    Feasible? There are a few approaches. One is that drivers could buy their cars but lease the batteries - a bit like buying your house but leasing your solar panels or renting your furniture. There's also a drivein-driveout design for cars so that cars could just slide a replacement battery in for one that is losing its charge. Not really a big chance because I don't see the central design point being universally popular.

    This one is my favourite at the moment, even though it's nowhere near ready for commercial release. Cambridge "crude" allows refilling of batteries rather than petrol tanks. 'Cambridge crude' could let EVs refuel like gas-powered vehicles is just one article on the topic. It's also got a good chance because the material is useful for many other storage applications. (And I have a sneaking admiration for the idea of being able to chuck a container of this stuff, pre-charged, in the back of the car when going on long trips. Much less dangerous than doing the same thing with a container of petrol.)

    As for cars not sitting on their chargers all day long. The figures show that most people use their cars for very few hours a day. All you need is for parking garages and supermarket carparks to provide a few recharging points and they'd be taken up in a flash. I recently saw a nifty set up (can't find the site just now) where solar panels both shaded the parked cars and provided recharging points.

    Fantastic storage? 24 hours from a solar plant is pretty good. Not achievable every day of the year, but a well-designed grid containing a good mix of solar, wind and hydro (maybe some tidal or hot rock geothermal in not too many years time) should take care of most such problems. As far as I can see, the central, big problem is that grids are designed for distribution from centralised generation points. If they had been designed for multiple, distributed generation inputs from the outset, switching over to renewables at any one point would pose no problems at all.
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    My ideal system is still a thorium powered nuclear reactor. Thorium is much cheaper than uranium, much more abundant, much safer in two ways (does not melt down and cannot be used in nuclear weapons), and produces only 1% to 10% of the nuclear waste. Since India already has thorium pilot plants generating electricity, it appears they are practical. There are still a few bugs to iron out before it becomes large scale, but the potential appears to be there.
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    Adelady, your post is remarkably short of specifics. 24 hours at what power level? A mix of solar and wind doesn't help you much if you have to plan for cloudy days with no wind, and as you mentioned before, not every place has hydro power available. The "Cambridge crude" idea may turn out to be worth while, but right now it's just a gleam in somebody's eye.

    How many car batteries would we need to provide a backup for the longest possible outage of renewable generating stations, and how much material would it take to build the batteries, especially if every car needs two batteries? A few recharging points? No, there would have to be one at home and one in the parking lot for every car out there, with lots of extras because the cars won't be parked in the same place every day. If they are charging up at night during the low demand time then they have to be powering the grid during the day.

    There is no sense complaining how the grids are built. They are what they are.
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    Another thing we keep leaving out of these discussions is the question of "wear and tear" on the equipment.

    On the one hand, windmills need continuous maintenance to keep them running properly. On the other hand, if we use a base loading power source that isn't damaged by turning it on and off, then time spent running the grid off of solar/wind is downtime for the base loading plant, which should have the effect of increasing its longevity by putting "fewer miles" on the engine.

    Ie. If you build a nuclear plant, and anticipate that running it continuously it will last 15 years before you need to build another, and that if you don't run it continuously, but only run it half the time, it would last 30 years, then in the course of thirty years you would have needed to build 2 nuke plants running continuously, and only one nuke plant running it half the time. We're spending twice as much money initially by having to build both the solar/wind and base load, but in the long run we're not.



    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury View Post

    The particular paper that I got the above economic "facts" from is here: http://www.worldscibooks.com/etextbo...895_chap08.pdf
    Quote from the above paper:
    In the end , nuclear reactors and renewable power generators do the
    same thing: they produce electrical energy (k W h). Why rely on a nuclear
    system that is subject to highly uncertain projections about uranium
    availability , centrally administered by technocratic elites, and vulnerable
    to the ebb and flow of international politics (requiring garrison- like
    security measures at multiple points in the supply chain), when superior
    alternatives exist?
    This is incorrect. Renewable power generators produce intermittent power. They cannot by themselves power a modern electrical grid, unless one takes credit for energy storage technology which has not yet been invented.
    Apples and Oranges. I'm pretty sure what the article is referring to when it speaks of nuclear being "unreliable" is that things go wrong and you end up having to take the plant offline, and spend lots of money fixing it.

    Solar and Wind are only "unreliable" in the sense that they go offline for a few hours/days if the wind/sun doesn't feed energy into them.
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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    I have recently been delving into a bit of family history, especially surrounding what they did during WWII. What people were willing and able to endure and sacrifice because the stakes were high enough both amazes me and in the current circumstances, shames me.

    It is not irrelevant to the issue of climate; for the sake of our children's futures we appear willing to sacrifice nothing. Apparently to even suggest that we might have to endure less than uninterrupted, abundant and cheap energy seems to be treated as equivalent to the end of the world as we know it. Actually, it's being argued that it's a worse possibility than really bringing on the end of the world as we know it.

    It happens I am a techno-optimist. I believe that excellence in Science and in Engineering are more than capable of solving, or at least managing, the climate problem. India may become the test case for new forms of nuclear as solutions. Australia looks well suited to being the test case for renewable solutions. I don't believe the issues of intermittency are beyond solutions, only that so far there's been never been a need for utility scale storage and even now there looks like no apparent need for it for decade more. Just use Gas for back up is the apparent Australian answer. Even pumped hydro exists primarily for reasons internal to Hydro, such as compensating for limited high altitude (energy rich) pondage by pumping from more extensive low altitude pondage during off-peak periods. All around R&D for storage that can detach renewables from fossil fuel or nuclear back-up is seriously lagging. Will it be the market for laptops and phones that we end up relying on to do the R&D for better storage? Not good enough IMO.

    Back in the real world and Australia, which I know most about, the reality is there is a strong, almost unstoppable push, to build enough new coal plants to essentially mean any new low emissions energy infrastructure - renewable or nuclear - will be surplus to requirements for decades to come.

    At best it will be built to be "Carbon Capture and Sequestration ready" but without any real expectation that CCS will actually be built and connected. (3.5 tons of CO2 per ton of best anthracite coal burned... someone care to explain how extracting, compressing, pumping etc, all of that can ever be economically viable?)

    When strong advocates of Nuclear insist that business as usual should continue until Australia 'comes to it's senses' - so economic growth isn't compromised - I shake my head dumbfounded. To introduce renewables or nuclear under such circumstances will mean closing down fully operational power generation infrastructure decades ahead of the end of their expected working life. The cost-benefit analyses that underpin these decisions are invariably based on assumptions that climate related costs either don't exist or must be minimal. And, for those that insist nuclear is the only viable solution, I still cannot see how opposing carbon pricing and promoting BAU until The Green Left become 'sensible' will ever result in a single nuclear power plant being built. As I see it the Right are the greatest impediment that keeps the politics of the centre from dealing effectively with the climate problem.

    I have more to say but it's late at night here, my wife is worried about my obsessive internet usage and my usual response that - "It's not like I'm watching porn - I'm trying to Save the World here!" no longer cuts it. So I have to go.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Another thing we keep leaving out of these discussions is the question of "wear and tear" on the equipment.

    On the one hand, windmills need continuous maintenance to keep them running properly. On the other hand, if we use a base loading power source that isn't damaged by turning it on and off, then time spent running the grid off of solar/wind is downtime for the base loading plant, which should have the effect of increasing its longevity by putting "fewer miles" on the engine.

    Ie. If you build a nuclear plant, and anticipate that running it continuously it will last 15 years before you need to build another, and that if you don't run it continuously, but only run it half the time, it would last 30 years, then in the course of thirty years you would have needed to build 2 nuke plants running continuously, and only one nuke plant running it half the time. We're spending twice as much money initially by having to build both the solar/wind and base load, but in the long run we're not.
    No, that's wrong. Nuclear plants like to run at steady full power. There isn't much in the way of fuel cost. Most of the cost is in the construction costs, licensing costs, operations, engineering and maintenance staff. It is pretty much fixed costs. You'd save very little by cutting power.


    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury View Post

    The particular paper that I got the above economic "facts" from is here: http://www.worldscibooks.com/etextbo...895_chap08.pdf
    Quote from the above paper:
    In the end , nuclear reactors and renewable power generators do the
    same thing: they produce electrical energy (k W h). Why rely on a nuclear
    system that is subject to highly uncertain projections about uranium
    availability , centrally administered by technocratic elites, and vulnerable
    to the ebb and flow of international politics (requiring garrison- like
    security measures at multiple points in the supply chain), when superior
    alternatives exist?
    This is incorrect. Renewable power generators produce intermittent power. They cannot by themselves power a modern electrical grid, unless one takes credit for energy storage technology which has not yet been invented.
    Apples and Oranges. I'm pretty sure what the article is referring to when it speaks of nuclear being "unreliable" is that things go wrong and you end up having to take the plant offline, and spend lots of money fixing it.

    Solar and Wind are only "unreliable" in the sense that they go offline for a few hours/days if the wind/sun doesn't feed energy into them.
    How does it make you feel better to know that solar and wind will go offline when the sun doesn't shine or the wind doesn't blow? Take a look at the capacity factors for nuclear versus solar or wind. That should tell you what you need to know. A lot of the down time of a nuclear plant is scheduled refueling outages which are generally planned for spring and fall when demand is lower. Solar and wind downtime are more unpredictable.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    There is no sense complaining how the grids are built. They are what they are.
    My point is really that the biggest cost for a grid where most or all of the power comes from renewables - which happen not to have their own storage capacity - is installing better access for new generation facilities and building in more responsive technology. It's really a bit 19th century when engineers have to decide themselves and manually disconnect and reconnect portions of the grid in times of overload, usually heatwaves.

    One of the most remarkable things I ever saw on teev was a British engineer who had to physically watch Coronation Street in order to hit the switch at exactly the right moment when it finishes - to bring hydro on-line to deal with the surge from many millions of kettles being turned on simultaneously. They didn't have any technology to do the task - which couldn't work from the advertised schedule because programs often run a little bit off the exact timings given and the switching time was absolutely critical - being 15 or 30 seconds wrong, early or late, could bring the system down.

    As for electric cars, it would depend on the major variable sources when most charging is done. If it's off-shore wind there won't be much difference between day and night, only in weather systems. For on-shore wind, you really need the grid to be interactive to take account of the fact that the wind is always blowing somewhere, just not exactly where you want it if you're running a limited regional power system.

    Even if you're working only with existing power sources, electric cars can be a big advantage to the grid, evening out demand to ameliorate coal and nuclear's lack of flexibility. http://www.you tube.com/watch?v=pSdny cHfLnQ gives a rundown, with some of those numbers you wanted. (I've inserted a couple of spaces in the url because I'm never sure whether these things will or won't show up in a compatible way on various sites. Just get rid of the spaces and you'll get there. )
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    Adelady,
    I watched the video and didn't get much out of it. They didn't address how many batteries you would need, or where the raw materials would come from. What I got from the video was that the battery storage would be more compatible with conventional base load power plants, because you could charge the batteries at night.

    You mention that the wind is always blowing somewhere on the grid. Not true. Weather systems often cover vast areas and affect large numbers of wind turbines at the same time.
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    The logical combination, without adding to greenhouse gases, is nuclear to provide the bulk of the power as base load, (perhaps up to 80% of requirement) since it does best supplying steady power. Then wind and solar can be used as top up, perhaps 5% to 20% of requirement. Finally, hydroelectricity is perhaps the best variable supplier, in that you can turn it up or down at will. So if hydroelectricity supplies the final power needed, then it can be switched right down to build up water behind the dam when the wind and sun are generating mightily, and switched up when wind and sun fail.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Ie. If you build a nuclear plant, and anticipate that running it continuously it will last 15 years before you need to build another, and that if you don't run it continuously, but only run it half the time, it would last 30 years, then in the course of thirty years you would have needed to build 2 nuke plants running continuously, and only one nuke plant running it half the time. We're spending twice as much money initially by having to build both the solar/wind and base load, but in the long run we're not.
    No, that's wrong. Nuclear plants like to run at steady full power. There isn't much in the way of fuel cost. Most of the cost is in the construction costs, licensing costs, operations, engineering and maintenance staff. It is pretty much fixed costs. You'd save very little by cutting power.
    That's good to know. It narrows the field for what kinds of power sources make good base load backup for Solar/Wind. It also explains why the two can't "get along". Coal also doesn't make a good backup, because the boilers take too long to bring online and take offline and suffer increased wear and tear from it. (I wonder if salt heating could be used to mitigate that?)

    .... So that leaves natural gas. A natural gas turbine is basically a combustion engine, so I would expect it would benefit from less run time, but maybe it too has the same problems? Certainly the steam process component of natural gas generation (combining steam with the process creates the best efficiencies) will suffer from being intermittent use.





    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury View Post

    The particular paper that I got the above economic "facts" from is here: http://www.worldscibooks.com/etextbo...895_chap08.pdf
    Quote from the above paper:
    In the end , nuclear reactors and renewable power generators do the
    same thing: they produce electrical energy (k W h). Why rely on a nuclear
    system that is subject to highly uncertain projections about uranium
    availability , centrally administered by technocratic elites, and vulnerable
    to the ebb and flow of international politics (requiring garrison- like
    security measures at multiple points in the supply chain), when superior
    alternatives exist?
    This is incorrect. Renewable power generators produce intermittent power. They cannot by themselves power a modern electrical grid, unless one takes credit for energy storage technology which has not yet been invented.
    Apples and Oranges. I'm pretty sure what the article is referring to when it speaks of nuclear being "unreliable" is that things go wrong and you end up having to take the plant offline, and spend lots of money fixing it.

    Solar and Wind are only "unreliable" in the sense that they go offline for a few hours/days if the wind/sun doesn't feed energy into them.
    How does it make you feel better to know that solar and wind will go offline when the sun doesn't shine or the wind doesn't blow? Take a look at the capacity factors for nuclear versus solar or wind. That should tell you what you need to know. A lot of the down time of a nuclear plant is scheduled refueling outages which are generally planned for spring and fall when demand is lower. Solar and wind downtime are more unpredictable.
    Perhaps I need to read that paper more closely. I was under the impression that the "unreliable" aspect of nuclear was in the form of unscheduled/unexpected technical problems which come up and cause the plant to go offline for repairs.
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post

    Perhaps I need to read that paper more closely. I was under the impression that the "unreliable" aspect of nuclear was in the form of unscheduled/unexpected technical problems which come up and cause the plant to go offline for repairs.
    The paper was basically bull crap. It says that renewable power sources are more reliable because if a single nuclear plant goes down, it takes out a larger proportion of the generating capacity than one wind turbine, for example. This is bull, because a whole wind farm would go out if the wind dies down.

    There are some other very questionable claims as well. It says that the centralized power station results in more costly transmission lines, which is ridiculous - the reverse is actually true. It says that nuclear has a bigger carbon footprint. That's also false, as I have previously posted some information to show that solar of similar reliable generating capacity needs many times more steel and concrete. This assumed solar thermal generation, because that is really the only renewable that can power the grid with any reasonable capacity factor.

    And of course, no mention is made of the waste produced by the renewables, like the toxic chemicals used to make photovoltaic panels, the vast quantity of used solar panels to be disposed of, and so forth.
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    Most solar panels are well suited to recycling; aluminium frames, glass and silicon. Modern waste separation techniques can turn mixed waste into separated piles of reusable materials. Some polymer to bond the cells to the glass. Far from perfectly but the progress is remarkable. Suggesting that disposal of used PV is a huge and intractable problem is exaggeration. Most PV that's ever been made is still working, often well beyond their 20 or more year warrantied life. The waste byproducts of production are themselves likely sources of valuable materials - it's that false sense of endless abundance and disregard for the environmental impacts that allows and encourages casual disposal. I would note that the anti-regulation Right are the strongest opponents of enforceable minimum standards for waste disposal and/or recycling.
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    It's doesn't always have to be about the "anti-regulation right", Ken. Coal lobbies play both sides of the fence. They're just more obvious about it when they play to the right because they've got that "let the free market sort it out" rhetoric to play to. (Sometimes I wish economics really were as simple as just sitting back and letting the problem solve itself.)

    For the left, they play the make-believe "we'll sequester all the carbon" game. The left says "ok we'll support you then.....um,... when is this sequestering going to start?" Then coal starts to tell them a story about this single special coal plant somewhere on the East Coast (unless they're addressing an East Coast audience, in which case the plant would be located on the West Coast) that's trying out a nifty new carbon sequestration technology, and they'll be implementing it all over the country just as soon as that program completes.... And strangely, none of them ever quite manage to complete.

    The anti-solar left is not much different except they don't try to string you along by saying they've got something in the works. They just say to wait another 20 years for the tech faerie to wave her magic wand and drop a magic solar invention out of the sky onto head of an unsuspecting inventor, who will miraculously find a way to absorb the full spectrum of sunlight - every wavelength with a single magical material. Never mind the implications that would have for the laws of entropy (imagine being able to sort all the photons emitted by a black body into their separate bands and combine them all into the same usable electric signal). Surely it's a simple problem awaiting a simple solution.
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    The biggest problem with solar and wind energy is cost. This will come down, and wind energy already is a lot cheaper than it used to be (with the exception of offshore wind). The second biggest problem is the intermittent nature of the energy. This latter problem means that wind and solar can never make up more than about 10% of total generating capacity of any network. It may appear more for some nations in Europe, but that is only because the network covers many nations, and they buy power off each other - hence spreading the loads.

    The biggest problem with nuclear is political, or public image. There have been too damn many well meaning idiots spreading negative propaganda - to the extent that the entire planet is being harmed by excess greenhouse gases because nations use coal instead of nuclear. I do not have an easy solution to this problem, and can only suggest that scientifically educated and rational people keep spreading the message that nuclear is not worse than other forms of generating, and should be used to replace coal.
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    Kojax, Skeptic, I know I sound like a scratched record (sign of my age that analogy), but I want the politics of the Centre to be where the energy choices are made. It's the only way to get past the deadlock.

    I see the climate-reality-denying-Right as a greater impediment than the extreme Left and that the Right, by abandoning the climate field, (expecting the Left to implode or something), was a huge blunder. The difficulty of Politicians admitting any error or doing a serious re-positioning due the Media pack's reaction to the scent of blood deserves a dishonorable mention here too.

    Hi Adelady - I've seen you about but never been introduced. I don't want to stop the debate of the pros and cons of the renewables vs nuclear debate but I really think that it's been done to death and hasn't yielded results. Both will get used and globally both look necessary - irrespective of my personal misgivings about nuclear. Neither by itself is the answer. The real enemy of both is the Fossil Fuel juggernaut and it's winning hands down.

    If peer reviewed science on climate and health is a guide excess deaths so far this century are already past the million mark. (10 years @ 160,000 = 1,600,000 -

    "The extent of climate change (relative to the 1961–90 average climate) by the year 2000 is estimated to have caused in that year around 160 000 deaths worldwide and the loss of 5 500 000 disability-adjusted life-years (from malaria, malnutrition, diarrhoeal disease, heatwaves, and floods" (Emphasis mine)

    - from McMichael et al http://119.93.223.179/ScienceDirect/...rticle_006.pdf ). This paper doesn't even attempt to project impacts of food and water shortages, forced migrations and conflicts - surely likely to be amongst the biggest future risks to human health and lives from unmitigated climate change.

    It's within the murkier realms of politics and motivations IMO, that the key to unlocking this truly deadly deadlock might be found.
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    I am not entirely convinced by the McMichael paper. It seems to me to overlook some vital factors.

    For example : global warming is least towards to equator and most towards the poles. It is also minimal in summer and reaches a maximum in winter. This means the effect on human health is greater in the frigid higher latitudes due to warmer winters. Most people in places like Alaska would not consider this a bad thing, and it may actually reduce the overall death toll by heat/cold stress. The increase in temperature in hot climates is likely to be minimal.

    Likewise, pessimists tend to predict an increase in diseases such as those that are mosquito borne. I suggest that this prediction ignores future advances in the science of preventing such diseases. What is often forgotten is that malaria and yellow fever reached a peak in the western world during the Little Ice Age. Subsequent warming did not see any increase, simply because we now know how to control the disease vectors.

    I am not suggesting that climate change is anything other than a bad thing. There are many reasons why we should try to minimise the warming. However, I am not sure that it will cause much of an increase in human mortality, if at all.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    I am not entirely convinced by the McMichael paper. It seems to me to overlook some vital factors.

    For example : global warming is least towards to equator and most towards the poles. It is also minimal in summer and reaches a maximum in winter. This means the effect on human health is greater in the frigid higher latitudes due to warmer winters. Most people in places like Alaska would not consider this a bad thing, and it may actually reduce the overall death toll by heat/cold stress. The increase in temperature in hot climates is likely to be minimal.
    Winds are determined by the difference between high pressure areas and low pressure areas, aren't they? If the coldest places warm up, I would expect the winds to change course. Not necessarily reverse, but weaken and/or shift. That could affect a lot of climates.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    The biggest problem with solar and wind energy is cost. This will come down, and wind energy already is a lot cheaper than it used to be (with the exception of offshore wind). The second biggest problem is the intermittent nature of the energy. This latter problem means that wind and solar can never make up more than about 10% of total generating capacity of any network. It may appear more for some nations in Europe, but that is only because the network covers many nations, and they buy power off each other - hence spreading the loads.
    It would have to be used as a means of generating fuel, not power, and that presses it down to a lower price constraint. If it reaches that price constraint then it's fully functional.

    The problem is we keep comparing it with actual generating electricity for the grid, which isn't its ideal role.

    The biggest problem with nuclear is political, or public image. There have been too damn many well meaning idiots spreading negative propaganda - to the extent that the entire planet is being harmed by excess greenhouse gases because nations use coal instead of nuclear. I do not have an easy solution to this problem, and can only suggest that scientifically educated and rational people keep spreading the message that nuclear is not worse than other forms of generating, and should be used to replace coal.
    The trouble with militants of any kind, environmental or otherwise, is once they sink their teeth in, they won't let go of the enemy they're attacking until they can find another one to replace it. Coal just doesn't have enough of a scare factor. Well....unless maybe coal generation became the new cigarette. It would have to be linked to cancer somehow. Everybody hates cancer. Poor cancer ;-(
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post
    Suggesting that disposal of used PV is a huge and intractable problem is exaggeration.
    Maybe so, but nobody has suggested that it is "intractable." What I claimed was that the cost had not been included in the above cited paper. Nor is it as trivial a problem as you suggest. Consider this article.

    http://www.stanford.edu/group/sjir/pdf/Solar_11.2.pdf


    Another executive familiar with the solar industry frames the problem more urgently. Steve Newcomb, Founder and CEO of “One Block Off the Grid,” a firm that connects consumers with the solar industry, calls the issue of used solar modules “a big deal, and one that nobody’s thought a lot about yet.” If nothing is done, he warns, the situation could escalate into “a major disaster.”4
    The toxic waste produced by manufacturing of solar panels is yet another problem which is typically not addressed in these cost comparisons:
    While the prospect of used solar panels looms somewhere on the horizon of American consumers, villagers in China are forced to grapple with the toxic effects of solar-grade silicon production today. The Washington Post reported these side effects in a recent article that spotlighted a small village in the central province of Henan overcome by a steady flow of silicon tetrachloride, a byproduct of the polysilicon manufactured by Luoyang Zhonggui, a nearby subsidiary of the solar behemoth Suntech.25
    Almost every day, workers dump buckets of this bubbling white liquid toxin over the land as the villagers, most of whom earn about $200 in annual income, are powerless to stop it. Despite persistent denials of wrongdoing from the factory, independent, nationally accredited lab tests confirmed the claims of leaked toxic pollutants by the villagers.
    First Solar utilizes cadmium telluride (CdTe), and several companies including GE plan to switch into the field, citing lower costs as their motive.59 But unfortunately, this potential “solution” might lead to even bigger problems. Cadmium is a carcinogen deemed “extremely toxic” by the EPA and can cause lung cancer as well as kidney, liver, and bone damage from inhalation.60
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    Harold @50. Nothing is going to be perfect at this point. The toxic waste stream isn't one I want to ignore, but I see it as solvable, given sufficient motivation. We shouldn't have to wait until we have something perfect when waiting is a choice in favour of fossil fuels - one that gives the green light to continuing unrestrained growth of use and entrenching long term dependence.

    You and others may believe that Nuclear is that single perfect solution but clearly there are others that don't, myself included. The baseline itself, for what each solution is capable of delivering, is a shifting target too.

    I know that some find it unthinkable that we should face wide variability of supply of energy but changes in attitudes and practices have happened before and to me it isn't unthinkable or intolerable. Sure, the nations that get in on nuclear early are going to be advantaged in the heavy industry department, but smart metering, smart appliances and variable energy pricing tied to better weather/energy supply forecasting mean industry can make best use of cheap renewable energy when it's around. Modern methods lend themselves to practical adaptive planning to avoid the price spikes and maximise use of the cheap supply when it's there.

    The technologies of storage, under such conditions will show themselves to be very valuable - a huge market that largely doesn't exist. At present it is a strong theoretical argument against renewables. Yet for a domestic situations and small businesses at least the kinds of storage that would see them avoid the high costs of power in overcast calm wind conditions is a lot less costly than that second or third car or the pool out the back. Yes being low toxic and safe and recyclable should be necessary design features. I note that vanadium redox, for example, rates as toxic, yet can be made to be safe and the electrolytes themselves are endlessly recyclable. Vanadium is also not a rare element. Cool rooms are already an example of use of off-peak cheap power. The operators know that a night's worth of refrigeration will carry it through the next day's high demand expensive energy period.

    Again I don't see storage itself as unsolvable; expensive, at least at first, but not impossible or intolerable.

    One thing I really do believe for Australia is that Hot Rock Geothermal will be a far better use of deep drilling technology than using it for Carbon Capture and Storage despite the claimed relative costs. It's a better investment in baseload backup for renewables than Coal Seam Gas. That latter happens to be the scenario most often considered here to be the best for the transition from coal but I believe CSG is not being developed for that reason - the FF industry wants to keep digging coal and CSG is a way to make money from lot's of coal that's otherwise uneconomical to mine. Gas is as well as Coal, not instead of.
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    Skeptic @48 - I doubt McMichael himself would claim to have done much more than consider what the parameters are for long term projections of health and climate change but he has approached it as a scientist, not as a vested interest.

    Yes, infectious diseases probably will be largely, potentially, solvable although I would note that basic health care in the world's richest and most powerful nation, the USA, is inadequate for a large proportion of it's population, and that looks intractable. Nothing to do with medical science, but because, surprise, surprise - of Politics. And, sorry, it's the Right that most resists changing that. Will the USA be a major player in getting better health outcomes for the developing world when it refuses to do it for poor Americans? I can't see it actually happening.

    Food, water, forced migration and conflict aren't likely to be so amenable to easy solutions and I cannot dismiss the science on climate that is saying the impacts will seriously impact these. Optimism that it won't be that bad is your choice but I suggest that it's not supported by ever improving understanding of how our climate works. No cause for optimism at all IMO, especially if there are no real and significant reductions in emissions and it's not the best case scenario that becomes reality, but the worst case.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    The toxic waste produced by manufacturing of solar panels is yet another problem which is typically not addressed in these cost comparisons:
    While the prospect of used solar panels looms somewhere on the horizon of American consumers, villagers in China are forced to grapple with the toxic effects of solar-grade silicon production today. The Washington Post reported these side effects in a recent article that spotlighted a small village in the central province of Henan overcome by a steady flow of silicon tetrachloride, a byproduct of the polysilicon manufactured by Luoyang Zhonggui, a nearby subsidiary of the solar behemoth Suntech.25
    Almost every day, workers dump buckets of this bubbling white liquid toxin over the land as the villagers, most of whom earn about $200 in annual income, are powerless to stop it. Despite persistent denials of wrongdoing from the factory, independent, nationally accredited lab tests confirmed the claims of leaked toxic pollutants by the villagers.
    First Solar utilizes cadmium telluride (CdTe), and several companies including GE plan to switch into the field, citing lower costs as their motive.59 But unfortunately, this potential “solution” might lead to even bigger problems. Cadmium is a carcinogen deemed “extremely toxic” by the EPA and can cause lung cancer as well as kidney, liver, and bone damage from inhalation.60
    China has a lot of problems with using toxins in the manufacturing processes, though. They even managed to put some of it in childrens' decoration jewelry exports to the USA.

    Toxic cadmium common in China's cheap jewelry - SFGate
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    If the coldest places warm up, I would expect the winds to change course. Not necessarily reverse, but weaken and/or shift. That could affect a lot of climates.

    (
    Affecting climates is not the same as making them worse from a human perspective.
    On winds, we have two different possibilities. In the tropics, warming may increase frequency/severity of hurricanes. So far there is no evidence of this happening, but in the future, who knows?

    In temperate regions and high latitudes, in theory, warming will improve the situation, by reducing frequency/severity of storms.

    On generating fuel with wind or solar. Yes, great. However, we are not there yet.

    To Ken, on health care.
    The problem with 21st century health care is that there is always going to be expensive care the rich will buy and provide only cheaper care for the poor. Expensive care becomes cheaper over time and more accessible to the poor, but by the time this happens, there will be a lot more health services newly minted too expensive for the poor. So the poor will always feel discriminated against.

    However, that is not what we were talking about. We were talking of diseases like malaria which come with warming, and they are something we can deal with for everyone. ie. by killing mosquitoes.

    On food, water, forced migration and conflict

    This is something we can deal with if global prosperity continues to increase. Since this is a long term trend, I think it might. Nations that suffer under rising sea levels or food production down, can still cope without forced emigration or war, if they are earning the money to buy what they need. The real threat here is corruption in those nations which prevents them becoming wealthy enough to do this.

    Tuvalu is often named as a small island nation which may go underwater. We already know what we will do there. My country, New Zealand, will take them in if and when it becomes essential. Bangla Desh is a more difficult problem in theory, but it is a nation that is growing in prosperity. Much of the country is high enough to be immune to rising sea levels, which means that emigration will be internal. By the time this is required, it should be wealthy enough to cope. The population density, even after such internal emigration, will still be lower than such prosperous areas as Singapore and Hong Kong.
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    Skeptic @54 - are you saying climate science is wrong? That not being sure - ie uncertainty - makes it more likely the impacts will be on the lesser side of the bell curve than the greater? I really don't think that is an honest reading of the current best science based understanding of climate change and it's impacts.

    I happen to think the outright 'it's not happening' form of climate denial has less overall impact than the 'happening but exaggerated' form; the latter is a far more potent de-motivator because it seems much more reasonable and moderate and appeals to people who are reasonable and moderate. The outright deniers are easy to dismiss and ignore.

    As for wealth - you can't eat gold. Or iPads. The costs and consequences of climate change come out of a kind of environmental capital that cannot be replaced and that capital underpins food production. Emissions are a thermostat with a ratchet; turning it up is too easy but there is no real way to turn it back down.

    Surely as a New Zealander you would be aware of how much Australian top soil is blown away during times of drought - it crosses the Tasman Sea and stains your diminishing glaciers and snow fields! And Australia is supposedly a world leader in agricultural best practice.

    Projections for Australia under unmitigated climate change indicate high likelihood that it's most productive regions will become much less productive - and that's not even considering the direct impacts of mining coal from under the vital aquifers under our most productive farm land!

    Northern Australia looks like it will be getting wetter whilst the South gets drier but the SouthEast is where the food production mostly is. Most of the extra rain in the North is expected to be in the form of extreme flood events rather than 'improved' climate for agriculture. Soils in the North are generally poorer, the topography is not well suited to dams and irrigation. The climate of Northern Australia, even unchanged, might suit cattle grazing, but it won't grow wheat.

    And as for Bangladesh's most productive farmlands - it isn't on the high ground. It only takes more severe and/or frequent flooding to devastate the delta that is it's main area of food production. Sea level rise will just make that loss permanent.

    It's all very well to be optimistic and believe that because we have seen a century or more of unprecedented growth in wealth that it continuing is inevitable. It isn't.

    Hope for the best but plan for the worst.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post
    Skeptic @54 - are you saying climate science is wrong? That not being sure - ie uncertainty - makes it more likely the impacts will be on the lesser side of the bell curve than the greater?
    Apparently you don't understand the concept of a bell curve. The highest probability is at the center, falling off equally in both directions.
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    MeteorWayne @56 - apparently you didn't read what I wrote. I asked a question, not make an assertion. At least initially.

    It sounded to me like Skeptic thinks the impacts are more likely to be in that 'falling off' area of lesser probability on one side, not the centre or other side. Why on the lesser side and not the greater? And, yes, why not nearer the centre? I'll wait to let him speak for himself on that.

    I would also note that such curves are not always symmetrical. It depends on the knowledge and understanding specific to the matter in question; in the case of the climate problem there are some parameters that give that curve a 'fat tail'. ie uncertainty about things like methane clathrates or thermohaline circulation leave open a greater possibility of some more extreme climate impacts than can be represented by the idealised, symmetrical bell curve. Similarly, the impacts of conflicts and forced migrations for example, leave open some more extreme forms of impacts on human health and mortality. Actually the fat tail of the climate impacts would seem to flow through into the fat tail of the health impacts. Amplifying it? That would be for our Scientists and associated Statisticians to say, not me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post
    MeteorWayne @56 - apparently you didn't read what I wrote. I asked a question, not make an assertion. At least initially.
    I didn't see anything that he said which indicated your interpretation, so was confused.
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    Ken

    My view is closer to that of Wayne's. That is, the median prediction is more likely than the ones to the extremes. For example : the IPCC have come up with a range of 'scenarios' for warming by the year 2100. The median scenario is about 2 C, and the extreme one is over 4 C. Guess which one I favour?

    On wealth. No, you cannot eat gold, but you sure can use gold to buy food. The world will always be able to produce enough food. The problem is whether people will have the money to buy it.

    On food production, as an Australian, you should appreciate this. Using hydroponics, and assuming no animal protein consumed, an area of 1000 sq. metres is enough to feed one adult. A simple calculation shows that monsoonal Australia, the one third of the country with abundant water, could feed 20 billion people if it were covered with hydroponic farms.

    Now obviously, we are never going to do that. But this example should show that potential food production is always going to exceed the needs of the population (projected to reach a maximum of 10 billion by 2100 according to the United Nations), as long as that population has money to buy the food.

    This is where economic growth is vital. Places like Bangla Desh cannot rely on domestic food production, and must earn money in other ways so as to buy food from countries like Australia and New Zealand. Fortunately, economic activity is already only 2% agricultural and 98% other. This means the ability to earn money in non agricultural ways is wide open and available.
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    Skeptic @59 you said "The world will always be able to produce enough food." I can't agree. To date, modern agriculture has been able to do so, but often using methods that are not sustainable. I don't know how much of Australia's formerly productive land is no longer productive but it's a number big enough to be frightening. That's without even consideration of climate impacts.

    I have my blind spots too, I realise but "... you sure can use gold to buy food."?? You can't really believe that do you? When food shortages get bad enough the ones with the gold buy guns and razor wire to make sure the food rioters don't get near the granaries!

    For the first time in decades global food production is showing decline. Not a trend yet by any stretch of the imagination - but it looks like an indication that the dream run, of forever being able to do more and better, can't be counted on. And we haven't even mentioned Population growth in this thread yet. Distrust of our institutions of Science tie into this related issue too. Whether the distrust of GMO or, as in the case of too many (by no means all) Australian farmers, it's their right to mismanage the land they own. And to rely on one good season in five for a windfall and have hands out for subsidies and assistance for the other 4. (I understand in NZ the average farmer is more likely to have a degree in relevant science and agricultural economics. Lot's of the better Australian ones as well but 'conservative' can mean preserving ways of doing things that we collectively cannot afford.)

    Sure, I read a SciAm article recently on high rise farming, but back in the real world preserving the agricultural capacity we have - weather and climate dependent agriculture - looks like a really good idea. And acidification's impacts on food harvested from oceans is one more cause for pessimism, rather than optimism on food security.
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    MeteorWayne @58 - It sure sounded to me like Skeptic was implying, if not saying outright, that it may not be that bad. I think unless we address these issues open-eyed and head-on his optimism is misplaced. Thus circling back to my questions/assertions about why we aren't treating the climate problem as serious and urgent.

    Stomp the BS climate science denial, regain public trust in Science, get the politics of the Centre treating it all seriously and then I'll start feeling a bit more optimistic.
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    BTW, I do dispute skeptic's claim that food resources will not be impacted.

    If heat and drought move the best growing areas toward the poles, sure there's land. But it's not very arable, and you run into one undeniable limiting factor. The growing season might be extended temperature wise, but the amount of available sunlight is driven by astronomy. And it isn't going to change.

    Even in my small vegetable garden in NJ, by mid September, even if we still have summer heat, the tomatos and peppers just stop growing. The fruit on the plant might ripen, but they are simply not going to grow due to reduced sunlight. Photosynthesis kind of counts on that
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    There are a lot of pessimists in this world. While there is some cause for pessimism (after all, global warming is real), there is also a lot of cause to accept a more positive view. I believe in the human ability to innovate and learn. There has not yet been a serious problem, apart from the traditional ones of war, famine and disease, that we have not solved without major loss of human life. Certainly many such disasters have been predicted, but overcome by human ingenuity, from pesticide destruction, to overpopulation and mass death from malnutrition in India, to nuclear winter, to Y2K, to ozone depletion etc. So far, the application of proper action and using novel techniques have stopped the worst part of those problems hitting home.

    Food production is the least of our worries. Where people die from malnutrition, even with drought in Africa, the real reasons are political, and specifically corruption in high places. The world can produce ample food, if those in short supply have the resources to buy it. The trends in food production are for continually growing output, with a minor hiccough recently 'coinciding' with the current global recession. The 'enemies' are corruption, and poverty which results from corruption.

    And Wayne, I did not claim that food production would not be impacted. My claim was that humanity could continue to produce enough food, which is a different matter.

    Human population growth is not going to be the big issue it once was predicted to be, either. Population growth is slowing down by a large amount. If you study the United Nations information (www.un.org/popin), you will discover that human fertility (the number of children produced per couple) has dropped over the past 50 years from 5.5 to 2.5, and is still dropping. By 2050, the UN predicts it will be 2.0, which is less than replacement rate. Population growth will continue for a while due to reducing death rates, greater human health, and greater longevity, but should level off at about 10 billion (plus or minus a few billion) and then start dropping.
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    [QUOTE=skeptic;295753]

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    If the coldest places warm up, I would expect the winds to change course. Not necessarily reverse, but weaken and/or shift. That could affect a lot of climates.

    (
    Affecting climates is not the same as making them worse from a human perspective.
    On winds, we have two different possibilities. In the tropics, warming may increase frequency/severity of hurricanes. So far there is no evidence of this happening, but in the future, who knows?

    In temperate regions and high latitudes, in theory, warming will improve the situation, by reducing frequency/severity of storms.
    Even a positive change can be an ecological disaster if it happens too fast, though.


    To Ken, on health care.
    The problem with 21st century health care is that there is always going to be expensive care the rich will buy and provide only cheaper care for the poor. Expensive care becomes cheaper over time and more accessible to the poor, but by the time this happens, there will be a lot more health services newly minted too expensive for the poor. So the poor will always feel discriminated against.
    Yeah. This is kind of necessary, too. The rich drive the technology increases. It's the same for cell phones, computers, ... etc...

    This is something we can deal with if global prosperity continues to increase. Since this is a long term trend, I think it might. Nations that suffer under rising sea levels or food production down, can still cope without forced emigration or war, if they are earning the money to buy what they need. The real threat here is corruption in those nations which prevents them becoming wealthy enough to do this.
    That's a fallacy. At the macro-economic scale, money doesn't really mean anything. If the total food supply diminishes below the total nutritional needs, the price of food will rise at a rate that outpaces the increase in prosperity no matter how much the prosperity is increasing. The only difference is people will be able to afford to watch big screen TV's while they starve.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post

    That's a fallacy. At the macro-economic scale, money doesn't really mean anything. If the total food supply diminishes below the total nutritional needs, the price of food will rise at a rate that outpaces the increase in prosperity no matter how much the prosperity is increasing. The only difference is people will be able to afford to watch big screen TV's while they starve.
    No fallacy.
    As I pointed out with my example of hydroponics in northern Australia, food production can be expanded almost indefinitely. Certainly the loss of a few percent of the Earth's land surface by rising sea levels and/or increasing aridity, is not going to prevent enough food being grown. Ultimately it is about money. If the money exists to buy food, the food will be grown.

    The real problem, as I have said, is corruption in high places, which keeps people poor and unable to buy what they need.

    Actually, two things which are going to become very big indeed in the next 50 years, will make food production potentially enormous, and low cost.
    1. Increasingly sophisticated and cheap robots. Agricultural robots tending plants closely will lead to massive agricultural production per acre.
    2. Improving genetics. New crops with features such as inbuilt insect resistance, the ability to fix their own nitrogen, and even more efficient photosynthesis will also boost this.

    My personal prediction is that, if the world's population doubles by 2100, they will be fed with no increase in current agricultural acreage, simply due to these efficiency improvements.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    concentrated solar technologies
    The concentrated solar will only apply to the sunniest dry places, like parts of the American SW, Arabian peninsular and Northern Africa. They don't work nearly as well in moist tropical or temperate regions where many people live like Northern Europe.
    There are cables for that. Concentrated solar in north Africa can supply the local demand and export power through undersea cables to the grid in southern Europe. Power cascades to the north. Siemens is a major participant, having decided to get out of the business of building nukes.

    The first projects will likely be coastal and use a fraction of their generated power to desalinate seawater for the steam plant.

    Morocco to host first solar farm in
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    I have previously posted some information to show that solar of similar reliable generating capacity needs many times more steel and concrete. This assumed solar thermal generation, because that is really the only renewable that can power the grid with any reasonable capacity factor.
    Yes, you did, and I showed you that you were mistaken. Please provide a reliable source to support this assertion. The best information I have is 400,000 cu.yards of concrete for an "average sized" nuke (say 660 MW), and around 173,000 cu.yds for the equivalent concentrating solar plant. The latter is from this source, scaled up: http://www.htri.net/Public/prodsvcs/HMS_Victoria1.pdf

    This is the only source I've found for CSP concrete requirement. Maybe you have a better one. Every yard of concrete requires much steel rebar so the steel should be in about the same ratio. Nuclear uses 2.3 times as much concrete and steel as concentrated solar. Your results may differ.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    I have previously posted some information to show that solar of similar reliable generating capacity needs many times more steel and concrete. This assumed solar thermal generation, because that is really the only renewable that can power the grid with any reasonable capacity factor.
    Yes, you did, and I showed you that you were mistaken. Please provide a reliable source to support this assertion. The best information I have is 400,000 cu.yards of concrete for an "average sized" nuke (say 660 MW), and around 173,000 cu.yds for the equivalent concentrating solar plant. The latter is from this source, scaled up: http://www.htri.net/Public/prodsvcs/HMS_Victoria1.pdf

    This is the only source I've found for CSP concrete requirement. Maybe you have a better one. Every yard of concrete requires much steel rebar so the steel should be in about the same ratio. Nuclear uses 2.3 times as much concrete and steel as concentrated solar. Your results may differ.
    TCASE 7: Scaling up Andasol 1 to baseload « BraveNewClimate
    The crucial data for construction material requirements for Andasol 1 is found in the NEEDS report 2008, “Final report on technical data, costs, and life cycle inventories of solar thermal power plants” – specifically, Table 7.3, page 88. Early in the report (page 28), they calculate costs for a solar thermal power station, located in the Sahara (with better insolation than Spain, but let’s skip this detail for simplicity), generating for 8000 hours per annum — close enough to 90%. They base this on 16 hours storage per day, which they project can be achieved by 2020. The value of 16 seems to be an average number of hours per year, rather than the crucial minimum delivery. Given that the time in winter that is suitable for generating with solar thermal technology is about 5 or 6 hours per day (on clear sunny days), the power station would need to have 18 to 19 hours storage to allow it to have a capacity factor of 90% (excluding bad weather). The base figures for material inputs for the current plant works out to be 1,303 tonnes of concrete, 406 tonnes of steel, and 133 tonnes of glass, per average MWe. To increase the capacity factor from 40% to 90%, one would have to roughly increase the size of the mirror field by a factor of 2.25 (90/40) and the thermal storage facilities by 2.5 (18.5/7.5). The larger mirror field can be rationalised on two fronts: (1) more collecting area is required to recharge the larger volume of storage salts, and (2) the solar multiple for winter will be about twice that of summer.
    Let’s use a half-way figure from above — 2.4 — as a scaling constant. This gives 3,127 tonnes of concrete, 974 tonnes of steel, and 300 tonnes of glass per MWe delivered at a 90% capacity factor. Scaled up to the size of an AP-1000 reactor (1,154 MWe at 90 % CF), this is 3.61 million tonnes of concrete, 1.12 million tonnes of steel, and 0.34 million tonnes of glass, with the total plant covering ~101 km2 of desert. By comparison, the reactor would require 0.24 million tonnes of concrete and 0.015 tonnes of steel, and occupy 0.04 km2 of land. So, the comparative solar : nuclear ratios comes out as follows:
    ————————————————
    Ratio of materials/land requirements, for equivalent solar thermal : nuclear (both calculated at 90 % capacity factor):
    Concrete = 15 : 1; Steel = 75 : 1; Land = 2,530 : 1
    ————————————————
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    I agree Bunbury, distribution combined with robust international agreements will solve much of the problem. No matter what we develop it probably get far more attention and funding.
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    Skeptic @65 - your optimism for human ingenuity is something we do share but I don't share your optimism that we can apply it that well. Or that the directions you seem to want it applied are the best of our choices of where to apply it.

    Your future of ever increasing wealth and abundance seems at odds with the world I know, which is overpopulated and resource constrained. I think agriculture that doesn't rely on soil and weather is going to increase in importance but it sounds to me like you seriously underestimate how dependent we actually are right now on soil and weather. And I think you underestimate how much it will cost, resource wise, to bring about a transition to new methods of generating wealth and abundance that doesn't derive from consuming our planet's environmental capital.

    As I see it the most important mines of the future will probably be the buried garbage of our extravagantly wasteful present - the spoil heaps of modern mines are going to be very poor pickings because they have become extremely efficient in separating recoverable ores from surrounding 'spoil'. Mining has gotten so efficient that it's digging up far more coal to burn than the overstrained carbon sinks of the natural world can manage.

    It certainly looks to me like that 'wealthy' future based on an abundance of cheap clean energy without resource restraints is not inevitable. It looks to me to be very difficult to achieve. We have the resources and ingenuity to build cheap robots to run hydroponics but cheap robots to build utility scale energy storage is beyond us? Even the most basic thermal storage systems are essentially simple, almost 19th century technologies. We can't do those better?

    PV to liquid fuels looks like just one reasonable focus for serious R&D. But it won't ever happen until and unless we lose the BS climate denial and start acting like solutions really matter, thus apply the resources the problem demands. Strong pigovian taxation will be incentive for solutions, but expecting the Fossil Fuel juggernaut to simply go along with any solutions that cut it out of the market won't happen without widespread and strong acceptance of the need for those solutions.

    We live in an illusion of endless abundance and it is coming out of capital that can't be easily - and possibly can't ever - be replaced.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post

    Your future of ever increasing wealth and abundance seems at odds with the world I know, which is overpopulated and resource constrained. I think agriculture that doesn't rely on soil and weather is going to increase in importance but it sounds to me like you seriously underestimate how dependent we actually are right now on soil and weather. And I think you underestimate how much it will cost, resource wise, to bring about a transition to new methods of generating wealth and abundance that doesn't derive from consuming our planet's environmental capital.
    I think what's being forgotten is that all production jobs, across the board, are resource limited. It's not possible to achieve full productive employment after a certain population is reached because there simply doesn't exist enough iron, energy, or other things (like food to justify their salaries with) to hire a larger number of people. What would they do?

    The service industry can grow ad-infinitum, but services aren't foundational wealth. They're only valuable once you've already taken care of your basic necessities like food and shelter, and meeting those things is the problem in a growing population. It's like adding water to the soup after it's already got enough water. You can keep on adding and adding if you want, but you're not really making more soup.


    It certainly looks to me like that 'wealthy' future based on an abundance of cheap clean energy without resource restraints is not inevitable. It looks to me to be very difficult to achieve. We have the resources and ingenuity to build cheap robots to run hydroponics but cheap robots to build utility scale energy storage is beyond us? Even the most basic thermal storage systems are essentially simple, almost 19th century technologies. We can't do those better?
    Wow. I hadn't thought of that. I keep mentioning how one advantage of Wind is the lower education requirements for people to build them, but why not go one step further, and consider the lower AI requirements of robot workers also? With enough wind mills built with sufficiently advanced/cheap automation behind the building process, it might not even matter how efficient/inefficient energy storage is. You can overwhelm pretty much any inefficiency if you just add a sufficient amount of raw energy.
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    "We have the resources and ingenuity to build cheap robots to run hydroponics but cheap robots to build utility scale energy storage is beyond us? "

    And let's remember that ingenuity doesn't always come in the form of mechanisation or robots of any kind.

    Solar Greenhouses in Ladakh « Climate Denial Crock of the Week and Solar Lighting from Dead Soda Bottles « Climate Denial Crock of the Week

    are just a couple of examples of how sensible ideas applied in appropriate environments can better people's lives (and their children's education), make their homes safer, save them money and even make them some money.

    If you want something exciting, novel and maybe a bit glamorous (in technical terms) try Michael Pawlyn: Using nature's genius in architecture | Video on TED.com especially the Sahara forest project - at about 7 minutes in.

    and this bloke is also brilliant ... or just plain sensible depending on your point of view

    Bringing Moore’s Law to Solar « Climate Denial Crock of the Week
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    About food, wealth, abundance, and population.

    The world is not resource constrained. The world is ingenuity constrained, with major damage caused by corruption in high places.

    As far as food is concerned, we can see what is possible by comparing Asia and Africa. When i was young, my mother used to tell me to eat my dinner, and "think about the starving in India". Today, mothers tell their kids to eat their dinner, and "think about the starving in Africa". India is now producing enough food to feed its entire population, although there are still a minority who starve, but due to lack of money, not lack of food. In fact, throughout Asia, food production is now comfortably keeping pace with population. In China, over 30 million people starved to death in the early 1960's due to idiotic policies by that great criminal, Mao Ze Dong. Today, with far greater population, China feeds all its people without malnutrition.

    Africa, though, is a much worse case. 200 million people out of a billion are seriously malnourished. This is due, not to lack of money as in India, but lack of food. Africa does not grow enough, and does not effectively distribute what it grows. But it is widely recognised by the FAO that most of Africa can grow 3 to 5 times as much food if it uses more efficient methods. Malawi, a few years ago, changed its approach and tripled its food production in 3 years. True, a new drought has reversed those gains, but it showed what could be done with better policies.

    Africa has the potential to become a food exporting continent. All it will take is better government, and the evicting of current corrupt political leaders, while replacing them with leaders who are smart and non corrupt. I believe this will happen, because we have seen it happening throughout the rest of the world. It will involve pain, like that we see in Arabic Africa right now, but it should happen. The real problem with Africa, compared to Asia, is that Africa started from a lower developmental point, and will take longer to reach the more 'civilised' state of Asian nations.

    Population again. Deep sigh. I have said this so many times. The world population now is 7 billion. But the rate of growth is dropping dramatically, and the United Nations predicts fertility will reach 2.0 by 2050. This is less than replacement rate, meaning that, in the long run, world population will drop. The peak by the year 2100 will be between 6 billion (with that drop) and 16 billion, but with a maximum probability of around 10 billion. Read the United Nations web site, if you do not believe me. www.un.org/popin

    Wealth. Everywhere a nation has been run by non corrupt government, wealth has increased. It does not depend on resources, or land area. Nations like Singapore with no natural resources, lots of people, and little land, have become very wealthy. It depends on human effort, unencumbered by corrupt officialdom. The long term trend world wide is towards better government. We see some reversals, like Zimbabwe, where corrupt and evil men take over. But we see more cases like Tripoli where those evil bastards are dumped.
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    Finding it hard to answer everyone individually - I'm kind of resource constrained too; not enough time!

    Whichever way we go resource constraints are going to be and already are a major problem - for wind, for solar and even for nuclear. I'll let others argue the relatives of that but I don't want to make that the focus here. My point is even with abundant energy refining from low grade ores, or out of sea water or whatever, will still be costly.

    Also I don't think anyone has really taken a crack at my point about the intersection of strong motivation and that line of what is tolerable. People routinely make sacrifices for their kids that are against their own short term self interest. Like I said, it looks like we are a generation that refuses to sacrifice anything - not when it's easier to simply deny the reality/seriousness/urgency of the problem.

    I do think most of the world's poor will have lights, communication and power for small tools from off-grid PV way before a grid, whether renewable or nuclear reaches them. And of course the grids that are building as we argue are almost entirely fossil fueled and will resist early closure, no matter how urgently we need to do so.

    I don't think it's all just unplanned markets doing their thing either; like the cheap printer that's virtually given away and where the profit comes from keeping it loaded with ink cartridges, the FF interests have insinuated their interests into the way development assistance in the developing world is allocated. Get those plants and grids build and there's a captive market. Short term it relieves poverty and builds wealth and the beneficiaries of it will become allies in resisting carbon pricing or any other measures to limit emissions. And people say it's better to wait until better options emerge and don't get why I think it's a really bad mistake!
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    If reduction of harm through use of electrical energy is the point of this discussion why doesn't everyone just quit it, save power, and go for a walk?
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    If reduction of harm caused by use of electrical energy is the point of this discussion why doesn't everyone just quit it, save power, and go for a walk?
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    History teaches us that resources constrain development only on a temporary basis. They can slow development, but not stop it. The reason is that we learn to either obtain more resources, or to substitute new resources. There was a bottleneck in development once due to a lack of whale oil. They simply could not kill whales quickly enough. Now, when was the last time you heard someone complain about the shortage of whale oil?

    At the end of the 19th century, the city of London had an enormous problem. It looked like one that was going to make London's economic growth grind to a halt. The problem was horse sh!t. London required so many horses to transport goods and people that there was literally millions of tonnes of horse sh!t that had to be cleaned up each year, and the city could not cope. When was the last time you heard someone complain of too much horse sh!t?
    http://nofrakkingconsensus.com/2011/...anure-problem/

    The pessimistic approach to the future is one that is very popular, and has both preachers and disciples. Lots of preachers and disciples! One thing they all have in common is a total blindness to human progress. The problems of tomorrow will not be the problems of today. Humanity is good at solving problems. We are running out of oil? Personal cars impossible? No worry, because the advanced lithium battery is on the way, and we will mostly switch to battery operated electric cars.
    Tesla Motors | Premium Electric Vehicles

    We are not generating enough power, and coal is polluting? So let's develop thorium nuclear power, which has the potential to supply the world's needs, at ten times current draw, for 1000 years or more. That is a true statistic.
    Safe nuclear does exist, and China is leading the way with thorium - Telegraph

    In any discussion of this type, we see two kinds of debaters. Those who see problems, and those who see solutions. The solutions are already being researched, and it is only a matter of time before implementation. In this sense, the world is unchanged. At every stage in history, there have always been problems. There have always been those who predict disaster. And there have always been those working quietly in the background to develop the answers.
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    Skeptic, Corruption is insidious. What do you call it when people organise efforts to deny the existence of a serious global problem and actively prevent efforts to do anything about it - and do it for gain?

    Climate Denial is, politely (don't want to break forum rules on language and etiquette) a serious form of corruption. And it's not primarily a problem of the developing world; it's worked it's way right to the heart of the most powerful nation on Earth. It's being given legitimacy and oxygen by people there in the most senior positions of trust. From there it's been undermining global efforts to even begin doing the most minimum necessary.

    Passionate barely covers what I feel about this.

    BTW I thought Lithium was one of those elements that is not that abundant - I half expect the nations that have it and don't hand it over to the big Multinationals on the 'right' (ie most profitable) terms will find themselves attacked verbally, diplomatically and ultimately via covert and overt force. The biggest accessible reserves are in a 'socialist' South American nation. It should be a means to make them wealthy but I seriously think it will do the exact opposite.

    Skeptic, resource constraints lead to Wars!
    Last edited by Ken Fabos; December 9th, 2011 at 03:57 PM.
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    Does thorium nuclear not create heat?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aristarchus in Exile View Post
    Does thorium nuclear not create heat?
    Probably. But no-one cares. All power generation creates some heat. But seeing as all 'waste heat' we emit from power generation and industrial processes adds less than 1% of the power of emitted greenhouse gases - the day we will start worrying about waste heat is a long way off.
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    Both these problems kind of play into one problem. People used to say the love of money was the root of all evil. That was before we did away with the gold standard. Now ambition has the ability to be rewarded monetarily to a nearly unlimited degree so long as the GDP grows as a result of it (so more money can be printed without inflation.)

    I think now the love of valuable real estate is the root of all evil.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post

    Climate Denial is, politely (don't want to break forum rules on language and etiquette) a serious form of corruption. And it's not primarily a problem of the developing world; it's worked it's way right to the heart of the most powerful nation on Earth. It's being given legitimacy and oxygen by people there in the most senior positions of trust. From there it's been undermining global efforts to even begin doing the most minimum necessary.

    Passionate barely covers what I feel about this.
    ....


    Skeptic, resource constraints lead to Wars!

    If you own a lot of valuable real estate, and the real estate supply contracts due to some global ecological disaster, the smaller amount of real estate that remains is more valuable than all the larger amount that previously existed was combined. Reason: more people competing for a smaller amount of a resource they genuinely need to survive creates a bottleneck effect. They're desperate so they pay up.

    This principle has been proven with the invasion of Iraq. The world's #3 largest producer got shut down, and oil prices for the remaining available supply sky rocketed.




    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post


    We are not generating enough power, and coal is polluting? So let's develop thorium nuclear power, which has the potential to supply the world's needs, at ten times current draw, for 1000 years or more. That is a true statistic.
    Safe nuclear does exist, and China is leading the way with thorium - Telegraph

    From what I've read of it, Thorium is, unfortunately, *too* abundant. It's hard to establish mineral rights for something that isn't scarce enough to buy up and cordon off. How do you make people pay you for permission to use it? A serious question for real estate moguls. And one the rest of us are happy to see going unanswered. But who controls the economy, us or those real estate moguls?
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    To Ken

    Re lithium
    Lithium Abundance - World Lithium Reserve: RESERVE AND RESOURCE SUMMARY
    I quote :
    "The report lists a total of 28.5 million tonnes of lithium, equivalent to nearly 150.0 million tonnes of lithium carbonate – equal to 1775 years of supply at the current rate of demand "

    In addition, the big untapped source of lithium is that whch is dissolved in the oceans, with 230 billion tonnes - an essentially unlimited supply.

    Does thorium nuclear power generate heat?
    Of course it does. That is the whole point. It uses heat to turn water to steam to turn electric turbines. If you mean, will there be waste heat to add to global warming, then yes. But the amount is trivial compared to greenhouse gas effects.

    To Kojax.
    I think your real estate discussion is a bit of a red herring. Thorium will not be as valuable as uranium, because of its abundance, but it will still be a valuable commodity, and will bring riches to those who have a good supply, once thorium power stations are up and running. More to the point, it is potentially an almost unlimited energy resource. Unrestricted use of thorium energy can give humanity all the electricity it needs in the mean time. Hopefully, long before thorium runs out in over 1000 years, we will have cheap and clean nuclear fusion. And there is enough deuterium in the oceans of the world to provide humanity with essentially unlimited fusion energy for hundreds of millions of years. Anyone think this is too little?
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    Something like a trillion dollars worth of Lithium in Afghanistan.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    To Kojax.
    I think your real estate discussion is a bit of a red herring. Thorium will not be as valuable as uranium, because of its abundance, but it will still be a valuable commodity, and will bring riches to those who have a good supply, once thorium power stations are up and running. More to the point, it is potentially an almost unlimited energy resource. Unrestricted use of thorium energy can give humanity all the electricity it needs in the mean time. Hopefully, long before thorium runs out in over 1000 years, we will have cheap and clean nuclear fusion. And there is enough deuterium in the oceans of the world to provide humanity with essentially unlimited fusion energy for hundreds of millions of years. Anyone think this is too little?
    It is kind of a Red Herring. I'm just trying to point out what form of corruption we're dealing with. Some fat land owners have been told they own yellow gold (by which I mean valuable uranium deposits). Now that entitlement has set in, and they've gotten used to feeling rich, they won't want to hear that some other mineral deposit is taking its place. They'll fight it tooth and nail. But, since there isn't another group of land owners who stand to gain from Thorium, hardly anyone is going to be fighting back, at least not with a similar determination.

    Politics is greatly influenced by emotion. Who's fighting more passionately? I know it shouldn't come down to that, but it does.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Something like a trillion dollars worth of Lithium in Afghanistan.

    It's ironic that the intuitive response is to feel sorry for them over that, instead of happy for them. In a perfect world, or even a good world, that would be really great news. As things stand, it probably means they'll be victimized.
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    On the abundance of Lithium - 28.5 million tonnes sounds like a lot. For laptops and mobile phones, 1775 years worth. But I suggest that when it comes to converting freight transport (even leaving out the private automobile) from oil to electric it is - sorry - a drop in the ocean. Is it reusable and recyclable? How much has already made it's way into landfills or ocean dumping?

    Extraction from sea water is not a commercial process. Any planning for a fossil fuel free transport system cannot be based on assumptions that economic extraction from sea water will be achievable soon, or ever. Deserving of R&D, yes, but so do a lot of potential technologies. I don't really want to go chasing the numbers for this, but I would suggest that Afghanistan's trillion dollars worth is more a reflection of the combination of Lithium being highly sought after and it's limited supply.

    My understanding is that about half the world's reserves are in Bolivia and current government is not 'co-operative' when it comes to the big international mining interests who, besides being upset over policies around petro-chemicals, are very interested in that nation's reserves of Lithium and are seriously unhappy with Bolivia's government's 'intransigence'.

    Sorry Skeptic, resource constraints are real and can and do result in armed conflicts with significant loss of life. I don't see how there will be a better, fairer way to see resources like Lithium harnessed to global benefit rather than partisan or commercial benefit.
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    Adelady @72 - I haven't had the opportunity to follow those links. When I get that opportunity I would like to. I would also suggest the 'Cradle to Cradle' and 'Waste Equals Food' ideas of McDonough and Braungart are worth a look.

    My primary concern right now isn't which technology but the strength or lack thereof of commitment to replacing fossil fuels with any of the proposed technologies. Not a lack of interest on my part in which or why but to me it's a matter of urgency that the politics of the Centre reflect the seriousness the climate problem represents. So far no-one here has adequately addressed how we move from talk to action and climate scientists are telling us that the decisions of this decade are crucial. i.e. it's a matter of urgency.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    There are a lot of pessimists in this world. While there is some cause for pessimism (after all, global warming is real), there is also a lot of cause to accept a more positive view. I believe in the human ability to innovate and learn. There has not yet been a serious problem, apart from the traditional ones of war, famine and disease, that we have not solved without major loss of human life. Certainly many such disasters have been predicted, but overcome by human ingenuity, from pesticide destruction, to overpopulation and mass death from malnutrition in India, to nuclear winter, to Y2K, to ozone depletion etc. So far, the application of proper action and using novel techniques have stopped the worst part of those problems hitting home.
    .
    Sorry to bring back an old post. It's where my browser happened to land me.

    If by "innovate", you mean gather into armies and kill one another until the per-capita wealth rises (same amount of wealth, but fewer "capita's"), then yes, humanity has never encountered an economic problem for which humanity couldn't find a solution.
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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  89. #88  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post
    Adelady @72 - I haven't had the opportunity to follow those links. When I get that opportunity I would like to. I would also suggest the 'Cradle to Cradle' and 'Waste Equals Food' ideas of McDonough and Braungart are worth a look.

    My primary concern right now isn't which technology but the strength or lack thereof of commitment to replacing fossil fuels with any of the proposed technologies. Not a lack of interest on my part in which or why but to me it's a matter of urgency that the politics of the Centre reflect the seriousness the climate problem represents. So far no-one here has adequately addressed how we move from talk to action and climate scientists are telling us that the decisions of this decade are crucial. i.e. it's a matter of urgency.
    One thing we need above all others is to have the sure and certain knowledge that we do have the technology to deal with emissions reduction. And it's affordable and deliverable right now.

    If you see what non-science people - and even lots of science educated people - believe from reading and hearing stuff in the general media. It's all 'too hard' and it's way 'too expensive' anyway. People are still falling for the argument that we need to wait for more and more R&D, rather than acknowledging that most good progress with technology comes from rolling it out and other implementation issues. After all, cars started out with unbelievably awkward gearing (anyone here ever tried double declutching?) and without even a system for the oil to circulate, they just sprayed it all over the engine. But nobody said they should sit on their hands and wait for someone to invent fuel injection or automatic transmission. The more they built, the more the technology advanced.

    The political will to get things done is much easier to muster when you're not really asking for sacrifice, you're just asking people to use clean, easy, readily available 21st century technology rather than clunky, dirty 19th century junk. And, for the record, I don't care how clean and smart a newly built coal-fired power station may be by the standards of coal-fired power stations, it's still old-fashioned stuff built using old-fashioned, brute-force thinking to do something centralised, yet more old-fashioned thinking, that is much better done an entirely different, distributed, clever way.

    As it happens, I think some sort of sacrifice is required. But it's more along the lines of doing things differently rather than just stopping. No, we are not asking anyone to live in a cave gnawing uncooked tubers, we're asking them to insulate their houses and use less power as a consequence, preferably with that power generated or at least stored close to the point of use.

    Eventually, because this is all too little too late, there will be real pain. But most of the pain will be inflicted by heatwaves, floods and droughts rather than by voluntary choices about power sources and lighting options.
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    But all these efforts cost money, and we ALL know we want the best quality at the lowest prices, don't we?
    Search engines are such useful tools .. I wonder why more people don't use them?
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  91. #90  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aristarchus in Exile View Post
    But all these efforts cost money, and we ALL know we want the best quality at the lowest prices, don't we?
    Actually many of us don't. Short term acceptability, lowest cost, and advertising meant to trick our brains often trumps other more rational perceptions of quality versus cost. We see this everywhere from buying crappy houses which use more electricity than homes 30 years ago and don't include well-proven technologies, to buying that particle-board desk from Wall-mart that might last two years instead of the solid wood one for only twice the cost will last a century from the store across the street. To make it worse and entire economic system tied to quantity of sales, with the only concern to quality being either cosmetic or reputation if can't stay with the lowered bar of it's competitors all playing the same game. I know at one point you said you were pretty old--probably older than the now defunct German company that built the vacuum tube stereo my dad still uses that have an average tube failure life of almost 40 years (he's gotten nearly 50 now). And this thread and a few others have pointed out the huge emotion driven fears that spoil reasonable arguments. We can't have nukes simply because they are nuclear and scary--regardless of their amazing safety record. And I can guarentee thorium or any other nuke power sources will be cast as unacceptable with the same wide brush of astounding ignorance. We can't fix global warming because it will put us all out of work. We can't use florescent lights in our homes because of the slippery slope of tyranny practiced by any politician who suggest we get rid of incandescents.
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    Adelady @88 - you said -
    One thing we need above all others is to have the sure and certain knowledge that we do have the technology to deal with emissions reduction. And it's affordable and deliverable right now.
    I disagree. Firstly sure and certain knowledge only, if ever, will come from hindsight. We can't afford to wait, even with serious effort to answer that question, in the meantime. Waiting is a choice with consequences; scary ones in my opinion. Second, affordable and deliverable is more likely to be a consequence of rather than prerequisite to appropriate policy that reflects the deep need for that transition. Third, what's acceptable and tolerable ie affordable is also related to the depth of acceptance of that need.

    I don't believe we are lacking the technologies of the solutions, we just don't want our (modern, rich, wasteful, indulgent) lifestyles impacted, even by something as unacceptable as having to pay more for all that stuff we don't even need. We are too soft, selfish and shortsighted to care that much and have forgotten how much of our freedom and abundance was a gift by our forebears who endured enormous sacrifices to give it to us.

    By Australian standards I live a frugal lifestyle but even that's rich, indulgent and wasteful simply because I live in the kind of society I do. Fanatical effforts by me to personally reduce my footprint would not even earn me greater respect; more likely it would earn me contempt for my fanaticism. But what I do apply to my own lifestyle does reflect some of the depth of my acceptance of the problem.

    The one thing we need above all others is bipartisan acceptance of the seriousness and urgency of The Problem. (that being more than just climate - it's the need to apply ways to sustain wealth and abundance that don't eat away the natural capital that is our heritage and reflect our responsibility to pass it on undiminished).
    Last edited by Ken Fabos; December 10th, 2011 at 03:02 PM. Reason: trying to get the block quote thing right
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    I got news for all you guys who are pushing for urgent, rapid and potent measures to combat global warming. It aint gonna happen!

    What will happen is a slow start to combatting climate change. This is already under way, especially in Europe. It will be resisted, probably for another couple decades by those who are not prepared to face reality, mostly in the USA. There will also be a long delay in China and India, though for different reasons related to poverty. At least in China and India, the national leaders are smart enough to recognise the problem, unlike the lawyer idiots who run the USA.

    Slowly, over the next 5 decades, more and more measures will be implemented to combat climate change. Within that 50 year period humanity will move away from burning coal, and away from transport using oil products. Reforestation will become a more powerful force than deforestation. Massive changes to agriculture will happen, minimising greenhouse gas emissions. Many, if not most, of these changes will be a result of new technology, allowing the change without serious negative economic consequence. Within another 100 years, global warming will slow, if not stop. Sea levels will rise and humanity will have to spend money to compensate.

    However, the economies of most countries will grow, and there will be more money available to permit the various populations to cope. In places like Bangla Desh, where land area is reduced by rising sea levels, agriculture will be de-emphasized (by necessity), and other money making ventures take over. More food production will happen in nations where this is possible. I suspect that, with rising temperatures in Canada and Siberia, there will actually be more arable land in another 100 years than today.

    World population will peak out at about 10 billion, and then slowly drop. Economic growth will be greater than population growth, and so will growth in food production. I am sorry I will not be around to see the 22nd Century, because it is going to be fascinating. The new technologies, like universal robotics, and advanced genetics, will be amazing, and will contribute to a significantly wealthier world. I could even envisage a world in which hunger is totally absent, and everyone receives a standard of living that is good by 2011 standards. Of course, corruption in government will need to be largely eliminated, but that trend is already under way today.
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    We can't have nukes simply because they are nuclear and scary--regardless of their amazing safety record.
    This is a bit of a strawman. This is not the reason that has been put forth here by several posters: nukes produce expensive power and suck investment away from alternatives. That is the main problem with them.

    And I can guarentee thorium or any other nuke power sources will be cast as unacceptable with the same wide brush of astounding ignorance.
    I really doubt that.

    We can't fix global warming because it will put us all out of work.
    Mentioning nuclear and fixing global warming together is misleading. If we start building nukes tomorrow they will not make even a tiny dent in global warming for at least twenty years. It may make sense in the long run, but we need to do something that is effective in the short run.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post
    ... sure and certain knowledge only, if ever, will come from hindsight. ...

    I don't believe we are lacking the technologies of the solutions, ...
    Sorry, Ken. That's the point I was trying to make. We do have readily available, deliverable technologies right now. And they're not terribly costly. Some of them even save us money or make us money.

    All successful revolutions have started with the middle classes. And wide adoption of solar PV is one area where the middle classes can lead the way. In a feed-in tariff environment, a modest investment will give secure, long-term income with far better immediate returns than just about any other place you can put your money. And the return can only increase over time (even if the FIT reduces to the same price as power supplied) because we know that power prices can only increase.

    My point was really that people need to know that, in many places, they're already using renewable power. Here in South Australia we already get 20% from wind. And where it's not already in use, it's available for installation right now at costs that are quite reasonable.

    As for living a frugal or sensible life. That's where politics come in, our personal choices about lifestyle are highly constrained by political decisions, usually masquerading as economic 'necessity'. Why is there no train service at all near a suburb, why are tram or bus services infrequent or unreliable? Why does a region have no recycling facilities, or really crude, clumsy waste management, or sewage pumped out to sea or down-river? Only concerted action, otherwise known as politics, can change such things.

    We shouldn't feel guilty about living in a wealthy society. Only about not making the best of the options available to us provided by that wealth.
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  96. #95  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    ————————————————
    Ratio of materials/land requirements, for equivalent solar thermal : nuclear (both calculated at 90 % capacity factor):
    Concrete = 15 : 1; Steel = 75 : 1; Land = 2,530 : 1
    ————————————————
    Yes, the same blog you quoted before, and it is false. The true ratio could be as high as 3:1 or much lower, depending on the particular embodiment of solar considered. I am pretty sure your blogger has compared just the nuclear reactor with the entire solar power plant - i.e. he has included the cooling towers, turbine building, operator buildings, control rooms, parking lots etc. for the solar but not for the nuclear.
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    Skeptic @92 - Action ain't gonna happen because too many people don't think it matters that much. Climate science denial, aided and abetted by (mostly) Right leaning, anti-regulation leaders in commerce, industry and politics are waging a deliberate campaign to ensure people keep thinking it doesn't matter that much. And that doing anything about it will be pointless/useless/costly/counterproductive.

    Any Right leaning folk who think that supporting the Right as it currently is will lead to the great nuclear renaissance that will solve the problem is fooling themselves as much as they are allowing themselves to be fooled. The Left has it's fools too, but the Right denying the reality of the climate problem to keep the fossil fueled juggernaut accelerating is, frankly, a far more damaging kind of foolishness. Irreversibly damaging. If they can't bring themselves to support the Left, they need to be pro-active within the Right to end the BS denial campaign. Actually I'd prefer that than to insist they should switch allegiances, because it needs the bipartisan politics of the Centre to break the impasse and create the political circumstances where it is gonna happen.

    The worst, most dangerous corruption isn't in the 'Third world', it's already eaten the honest heart out of our 'best' democracies and it's bankrupting the vast majority of honest people as well as stealing their future even as we argue amongst ourselves.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury View Post
    Mentioning nuclear and fixing global warming together is misleading. If we start building nukes tomorrow they will not make even a tiny dent in global warming for at least twenty years. It may make sense in the long run, but we need to do something that is effective in the short run
    Perhaps, but the reality is absolutely nothing on the table is a quick fix--not solar, not massive electrical distribution, not massive tidal....none of them "will put a dent," in the short term. The best short term strategy is probably conservation and broad measures that finally bring out homes to the more modest levels of energy use we had in the 1970s--but people resist that as well.

    This is a bit of a strawman.
    Of course. I don't actually feel that way. But in the political eco chambers in the US beltway, that's how all these issues are being cast. We haven't' had a rational public debate since the 1970s about nuclear power--and the way it looks nothing nuclear stands a chance of even being considered.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Perhaps, but the reality is absolutely nothing on the table is a quick fix--not solar, not massive electrical distribution, not massive tidal....none of them "will put a dent," in the short term. The best short term strategy is probably conservation and broad measures that finally bring out homes to the more modest levels of energy use we had in the 1970s--but people resist that as well.
    Couldn't agree more. Can't remember who said it, but the USA's first and best investment should be in "nega-watts".

    Even if you take out the gas-guzzling transport numbers, the USA still uses whacking great lumps more power than Europe for much the same standard of living. In Australia, we're building bigger and bigger houses with big, bigger, biggest sun-exposed expanses of glass. So we buy bigger and bigger air-conditioners to make them livable. Then we complain about the power bill.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post
    Skeptic @92 - Action ain't gonna happen because too many people don't think it matters that much.
    Ken
    It is already happening in Europe, and there are many other nations which are proceeding down the first stages, including New Zealand and Australia. The USA is backward here, but my earlier comment stands. Nothing much will happen in the short term. You need to think in terms of 50 years before major mitigation is under way. If you can bring yourself to think on those terms, then you will see things a bit differently.

    The reality is that nothing much is going to happen until changes can be instigated without negative economic effects. It is moot whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. For example : no-one is going to try getting along without a car, but if they can buy a good quality electric car for a similar price to the internal combustion model, then things will be different. This includes me. No way am I going to do without a car, but I would be happy with an all-electric model.

    To adelady.

    There are two long term trends realted to electricity.
    1. This trend is towards better energy efficiency. Companies that make electrical appliances know they can sell more and make more money if their product uses less energy, so there is a big push to develop more efficient gadgets. This trend runs to household insulation, double glazing, refrigeration, lighting, heating and so on.
    2. The trend to using more electricity guzzling appliances. This will continue, and probably at an increasing rate. For example, widespread use of electric cars will massively increase the need for electricity generation.

    In other words, while energy conservation and efficiency are great things, they will not compensate for the increased need for generation. Each decade that passes will require more and more power stations. What is needed here are means of generating power in vast amounts that are economic and do not dump lots of of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Australia should be planning right now for a number of nuclear power plants. New Zealand's needs are less, but we should be planning for at least one good sized fission staton.

    Sadly, politicians will go down the path of least resistance, regardless of how much harm it does.
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    1. This trend is towards better energy efficiency. Companies that make electrical appliances know they can sell more and make more money if their product uses less energy, so there is a big push to develop more efficient gadgets. This trend runs to household insulation, double glazing, refrigeration, lighting, heating and so on.
    It that push really exist, it's barely noticeable in the US. Right now Ennergy Star, which is the most recognizable energy efficiency label, only represent 25% market penetration after more than 15 years, Energy Star Certification: 25% Penetration in U.S Homes | Solar Feeds
    That's deplorable track record and a national embarrassment.
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